In the morning it was up early for the Hammer at the Slammer. My race was scheduled for an 8:15 commencement, and it was actually pretty close to that. Unfortunately this race did not have separate 4s and 5s, so we 4s had to ride with those icky 5s. Maybe 35 total. Oh well, at least us insignificant 4s and 5s only have to pay 15 bucks to race, instead of 20 like everybody else (except juniors, but I didn't see any).
We were told to ride in a neutral fashion to the finish line from the start area, purportedly a distance of 4 miles. Hmm. Off we went, and started tooling along the course. Which is a nine-mile circuit, and the location of the finish line last year was on the other side, far more than 4 miles from the start if the course is ridden in the proper counter-clockwise direction. We all talked about this, and were much relieved when a different-from-last-year finish line hove into view at about 4.5 miles. Not only that, but it was a flat finish, as opposed to the finish-up-the-hill from last year. Ok, there was a little headwind, but a flat finish! Maybe if I could just stick on the hill...
First time up the hill. Look, little light guys attack. What a surprise. They get pretty far down the road in the time it takes me to crest that last rise. But it's downhill from here for three miles, and I blast along, sucking up everybody else who got dropped. We catch up at the trun to go back into the wind. No problem, the field is poking along letting some guy dangle off the front in the wind. I can do this every time, right?
Some guys did get dropped on the hill (and didn't grab my wheel in time) and the peloton is not providing much shelter from the distinct headwind. I have to make a pseudo-attack to get somebody to chase me and get a wheel to suck, and it's not even a very good wheel. Around we go again, and this time the field is a little more strung out on the hill. Again I get somewhat dropped, but manage to chase back on by the turn upwind. Around again, dropped again, and this time I don't get back to the dwindling field before the upwind leg. Hmmph. Well, this wind thing really sucks. Pass some stragglers from other fields - the masters and women are also on the course at this time. Up the hill one more time, one more climb up it to go, and it's pretty lonesome out here.
But this time across the finish line, everyone is sitting around and Gary Bywater says we're all done. After four laps instead of five? Okay, Gary. I'm probably mid-pack somewhere, as people are still coming in, but am in no danger of winning anything, so ride pretty slowly back to the start and hang out with Chuck before taking off. Chuck, wanting to get in some training this weekend, rode both the masters and 1-2-3 races on Friday and Saturday but slowed down with just the masters event today. Good call, as the 1-2s are supposed to go nine laps. But I'm leaving right after they start, so I don't really care.