One more time. Three years in a row, a third place, would the fourth attempt be the charm?
In a word, no.
But at least I didn't crash.
Unfortunately, the 4s were combined back with the 5s this year (I knew last year was too good to be true). Field size of 54, and man what a lot of squirrels. Worst headwind from turn 3 to 4 - interesting - but the squalls stayed away.
Staged pretty poorly, and seeing all the bobbing and weaving after the start I decided to stay in back rather than fight my way through all the 5s. Predictably, the pace was high to burn off a few people at the beginning. Not me, but maybe 10-15 got dropped.
I'm just hanging out at the back, not feeling string/bored enough to battle to the front, and there seems to be no danger of getting dropped either. Flat crits are nice that way. Looks really dangerous in midpack, the primes just aren't worth it. Am I getting old, not wanting to be taken down?
Halfway though the 45 minutes, one guy bumps wheels and bounces by himself just after the start/finish. Missed him. I'm not always absolutely tailgunning, sometimes I move past people when they look like they are going to drop off, then the pace slows and they get back on. Still, maybe another 10 fall off the back in the middle. No tactical action, breakaways, or chasing that I can see.
About 10 minutes to go, there is a big pileup on the backstretch. 10 guys at least, but I avoid the carnage once more. One poor fellow is laying on the pavement (being tended to) for several laps. He's in the way, but gives the cops something to do other than sit on their motorcycles at the corners.
The pace picks up after this incident for a bit, down to maybe 15 in the pack, but then slows and a few people catch back on. Still looks pretty scary up ahead of me. I'm such a wuss. Did I mention the corners are lots bumpier than last year? Various holes in the pavement make picking the right line pretty tricky.
Three laps to go. Still in back. Two laps to go. Still in back. Maybe I should move up? Oh well. Ding ding ding. Yeah, should probably move up some real soon now. Still a bunch of squirrels in front of me, though. Turn 4, sprint around a couple guys, but the field is all strung out. Big whoop, 20th place. I don't even make the district web page's results.
Darn those 5s for getting in my way. Almost make me want to move up to 3s, but I have no results for that. Decide to stay for the "twilight" 1-2-3s race to see what I am missing. No crashes, but oops, someone forgot to bring the corner lights so the race will be over when the referee decides it's too dark. About an hour instead of the advertised 75 minutes. Three guys lap the field once but can't get away again, then the video camera operator has to pick them out of a field sprint to determine 1-3 places while the field sprint winner gets 4th.