Thanks for the segue Csaba. Well, Csaba is correct, my luck did return at just the right moment. The flat I sustained during the race was not me first flat of the evening, in fact I had flatted on the ride out to PIR. At this point I firgured I would be ok because I had a spare tube, so I jumped on the MAX and fixed my untimely flat.
Fortunately I arrived to the track about forty five minutes early so I was still able to get my broken down old body warmed up. As this was just me second road race in many years the butterflys began to flutter. Due to my lack of fitness I told myself that I needed to just be patient today and see what unfolded at the end. Of course as the first little breakaway began to form I found myself latched on the back but after about two minutes I realized that that I was just not ready for this kind of intensity yet, so I sat up and drifted back to the group. At this point I reminded myself to just be patient. To my surprise the field reeled the five man break back in and we resumed business as usual. The race was just how I remembered it, if you can just stay in the top ten and survive the occasional attack it is not that difficult to be there at the end.
We were going through the first corner on approximately the fifth lap when I felt the rear of my bike began to feel a little loose. By the time we hit the new turn four I realized that it was happening again! I raised my hand and let everyone know that I was exiting the race and pulled to the side. I took a moment to scream like a baby that just had his toy taken from him. After pulling myself back together I thought I would go the back way through the track. To my surprise the gate was locked, so I figured I would just jump the fence and be on my way back to the start/finish line. I think jumping the fence with the jagged points of a chain link fence threatening to pierce my junk was the scariest part of the night. As I began to walk back, full of dissatisfaction at what might have been, I noticed that everyone was being flagged down and brought into the staging area, so I picked up my pace and asked the first guy that I could speak with what was going on, and he replied that they were neutralizing the entire field so that they could bring the ambulance on the course and exit safely.
My instincts kicked in, I ran back to my bag and quickly replaced my tube for the second time. I eagerly asked the promoter if it was ok for me to remain in the field as I had only missed a half of a neutralized lap. Jim response was the turn in my luck for the evening, with the injured rider swept up and on his way to places I would rather not talk about the raced resumed and once again I found myself patiently sitting near the front of the pack. At some point they rang the bell for the final prime lap but I did not hear it and unfortunately was not ready when everyone began to sprint for the extra points. At first I thought I may have been losing my mind because I heard three laps to go on two consecutive laps but later I had heard that they lost count, oopss! I stayed calm because I knew that I was a little crazy no matter what I heard. As the final lap bell sounded I made sure to stay out of the wind and in position on both the front and back straights, riding the outside on the front staight and on the inside on the back. As we rounded the final corner I had been eyeing a couple of guys that looked as if they had Hemi's for legs and thought I would mark these guys because most certainly one would be pulling the other to the line. Unfortuantely the Hemi legged men had nothing more than well dressed Yugo's for power trains. My eye caught another set of lycra clad gentleman moving up fast on my left so I jumped and made it on there train. As we passed under the bridge I waited and waited for my time at approx fifty meters to the line I thought it is now or never so I made my final jump and lo and behold I cleared the group of guys in front of me and surged for the line with what I hoped to be a top three finish. I did not finish third but I did finish fourth, accomplishing my own personal victory by just being patient and letteing the race unfold and then seizing my opportunity.
I hope to see more of Team Cyclisme at PIR in the near future.