Monday, August 6, 2007

8/4 - 8/5 Bannock and Fed Center Crits

"We take the turn and the bonehead on the front takes the
corner way to fast and hard and goes sliding off the course..." - Report by Lee Gerakos

So the racing this past weekend was fantastic. I had heard so many
bad things about these courses and all I can say is that they are
completely wrong. I saw two crashes this weekend. In both cases it
was a guy taking a corner too hard by himself and crashing out.
Otherwise the peloton was great.

So, I showed up at the federal center early saturday to get in a
good warmup. I was presented with a very mellow atmosphere. Jumpie
castles and a few tents. Did my warmup and reviewed the race map.
This is a twisty course with a slight hill on the backside. Each
lap takes about 10 minutes, so we did 4 in total. Knowing that it
is twisty, I was the first to line up and stayed in the front 5 guys
for the first lap. Actually I spent the first 3 laps in the front
15 just trying to get some kind of break going. Either attacking,
countering, soloing ahead, something. But nothing really took.
Hart, rmrc, echelon, louisville, twin peaks, etc. all had good sized
teams representing so I was hoping one of them would actually try to
work. but alas, nothing. i guess that's cat 4 racing. so going
into the last lap, I decided by best option would be to recover for
the first half and then move up at the hill. So, I have everything
going to plan, going into the final turn with 200m to go I'm 6th
wheel. We take the turn and the bonehead on the front takes the
corner way to fast and hard and goes sliding off the course into the
grass. The guy in second goes around him and off course into the
grass and pulls a lance as we muscles his way back onto the course.
In the pandemonium, the 3 guys in front of my all slow down, but
spread apart, effectively boxing me in. So a big rush of 10+ guys
come around and I'm scrambling to jump on a wheel. I go, but my
motivation has been deflated by this point, so I complete my 40 mph
sprint for 15th. But I had a blast. That race was really what
makes racing fun.

So Sunday was even better. I had never done Bannock before either.
And with a 7 am start time I didn't know what to expect. So I got
up at 4:30, ate breakfast, drank some coffee and headed down there
for the start. Actually, heading out that early is pretty cool.
It's neat to see such a busy place be so quiet. So Bannock street
is right south of downtown. Actually, there's a great Cuban
restaurant on the corner of the course called cuba cuba. I highly
recommend it. Anyways, this is a really cool course on city
streets. Kind of like longmont, but a bit larger of a course with a
downhill and uphill section. For the finish, you take the final
hill, turn right, and then sprint for about 150-200m. As usual,
there's still about 60 guys at the start and we go from the gun. So
today, I figure I will chill out the first half of the race and just
sit in and feel it out. So I just navigate the field, watching
riders, see who's feeling good, who's sketchy, etc. The biggest
advantage I've gotten out of doing a full crit season is that I know
who is who. I know the sprinters, the sketchy dudes, the guys that
go off the front and do nothing, and the guys that tend to find
themselves in the top of every race. Plus, the huge benefit of
getting to know these guys is that you get (and give) favors. Like,
you get stuck out in the wind as you move up, and the guys you know
let you move in. Or you go into a break, and the guys you know are
willing to work with you. It takes away a lot of the guesswork and
makes the race much more relaxed.

So, at about minute 20, we have a prime (of which there we 10!) and
3 of us get a gap. I'm drilling it at the front for about half a
lap and our lead is going. The next guy pulls through, our pace
slows, and nothing. Agh! man, I really want one of these to work
out. I try again like 3 more times during the rest of the race, but
nothing. I just think that would be the coolest way to finish. Off
the front in a break in a cat 4 crit. anyways, I'm spend the final
5 laps following the wheel of the guy I thought won the race the
previous day. Going into the final hill I'm about 15 back. I
realize already that I'm not where I need to be. F#^%$#! oh well,
take the turn and haul a$$ to the finish and take 11th. Not bad,
but not great. Having done that course now, I would think 3rd wheel
is the place to be. Actually, just about every race I've done, I
think 3rd wheel is just about perfect.

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