Monday, April 5, 2010

Ontario 2

Today was a lonely day as I rolled up to the line alone. It felt like last year, warming up alone and knowing that I would have no support and no one to support. No worries though, I knew it going into this race and wasn't planning on doing it until the last moment, the goal basically being one last tune up before my first target race that is Dana Point which is next Sunday. I had a one friend Derrick who I knew was a strong rider, one marked rider who has been on a winning streak and the rest were the usual suspects that regularly line up at the cat 4 races.

The course profile: 7 turns 1.2 mile circuit with a long 400 meter straight leading into the start finish.

I was coming off a rest week and yesterday told me that my legs were refreshed and ready to go. I took off from the gun and pulled for ¾ of the first lap (my signature move remember). Long story short I stayed in the top 7 the whole race never slipping back once and taking more than a handful of pulls leaving myself enough gas in the tank to recover well. I was reading the group perfect today answering every surge battling to hold my position at the front. Derrick and I didn’t work together but were constantly in contact with one another helping each other out by letting one another into the draft as needed.

Laps cards came out reading 4 to go and I was sitting 4th wheel. I was in good position but didn’t want to get any further to the front so as each rider finished their pull I would let a small gap open so they would fill it keeping me in the front without having to take a pull. The last 4 laps were fast and strung out as a few teams seemed to try to organize the group and keep it fast, which worked perfect for me. With one to go I was feeling great and was letting the guys keep it nice and single file. My plan was to go early as I am a decent sprinter, but feel I have a better constant motor that is more effective than trying to come around other riders. Out of the last chicane I jumped out to the far left from about 4th wheel. I put my head down and gave everything knowing that the next 350 meters where going to be the longest I have encountered in awhile. I knew I created a descent gap only to be answered by a small select group of riders. As I got out of the saddle and was winding out my sprint about 75 meters from the finish I was passed on my right by the rider I marked as my biggest competitor. I attempted to grab his wheel but he had such a strong kick I couldn’t close the gap. I than was passed by another rider, and than one more nabbed me at the line leaving me to finish 4th.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Redlands Classic Race Report

After battling a pretty bad cold we still decided that I would be the protected rider at the Redlands Classic Crit. The Redlands Classic is part of the National Race Calendar, which makes it a pretty big event. The course is a challenging short .6 mile 6 turn course with a riser of a start/finish straight which leads into a 160 degree chicane into a slight downgrade straight than has a quick two turn right left snake that than goes into a soft fast right hand shoulder and right into a hard 90 degree turn leading you back into the start/finish straight.
We met at John’s house, which is a convenient five-minute ride to the race. We got a nice 35-40 min. warm up on the streets of Redlands and than lined up. Off the gun I pulled my signature move, which for those who don’t know is go right to the front and take the first pull of the race. The first 10 minutes of the 45-minute race was fairly uneventful. I could tell the boys felt strong as John and Mike moved relatively effortlessly through the field which for the most part stayed strung out and running smooth due to the fast pace. Later into the race there was a near miss as someone flatted on the chicane and cut the field off separating me from the field so I had to stomp on it to close the gap that was created. A few laps later I hit a massive pothole in the road and had to take a free lap while I got a new wheel from neutral support. I got back into the back of peloton to find Mike and John who had dropped back to tow me back up to the front half of the field.

Towards the end of the race there was a solo break up the road that was out for awhile so mike helped the group real it back in. With lap cards now reading 3 to go Mike and I were in great position and John was close behind battling to get to the front. With two to go Mike was sitting about 3rd wheel with me directly behind him. There was a break of 4 that just got absorbed after the start/finish (I’m pretty sure it was just a prime attempt that gapped the field) so of course as every second lap I have ever encountered the pace lulled. I yelled for Mike to hit the gas and get us up front as I was sure a surge would come from either side. Mike didn’t hear me, and a group of 15-18 riders came up on the left shuffling us back into about 20th or so. We stayed there for the remainder of the lap since there was nowhere safe to make up that many positions so we waited to do so on the start/finish stretch. As we got to the start/finish with the bell ringing signifying the last lap of the race I hit the gas and moved up a handful of positions but still sitting too far back. Leading into the chicane Mike and I were on the outside of the group and exactly as I knew it would happen a rider took the chicane too fast from the inside sliding himself out across the width of the field ending up right in front of Mike and I. I was forced to slow and safely avoid the bike and few riders that went down by riding into a driveway on the side of the road. My race was over, the small group in front got away so Mike and I got back on the course dropping a few F bombs as we slow pedaled to the finish. John made it through the crash and ended up finishing 22nd, which is awesome since earlier that week John had mentioned his goal was top 25. Way to go John! I can tell his confidence is on the rise and he is now super comfortable in the cat 4 pack and knows not only that he is strong enough to be there but also strong enough to be a player in this category. Mike also did a great job and has a strong motor that I used more than once to help me position myself in the peloton. I think if we would have made the move with 2 to go and took control of the peloton we would have avoided the crash and would have secured a podium finish as my legs were solid and had a lot left in them during the last 2 laps. There are definitely some things we can work on as a team and we would be ignorant to think otherwise. But the important thing is that we know we are strong enough to be where we need to be at anytime during the race. All in all it was a fun fast and technical race that ended with a huge chunk of bad luck, but hey that is racing and we will charge on and kill it soon enough!