Monday, May 19, 2008

How did I get here?-Not the same as it ever was

After finding myself within the top 5-6 guys at the finish of this weekend's two crits, I wonder how I got there after being so incredibly crit challenged last summer. At first, crits scared me which meant I had to do them. I was off the back in my first 2 last year. I really started to dislike crits, but, after a few more (especially this year) I am actually starting to like them. They're certainly more fun near the front and when that elusive good form appears.

Wheels of Thunder crit: Saturday was a sunny beautiful day. The course was wide open, good roads, gently rolling, 1.6 mile D-shaped loop with a long moderate uphill to a false flat straight finish into a headwind.

After running into Steve Capstick, Kevin and Isaac, I lined up on the front with 60 to 70 other 35+4s including Steve. I started at the front and decided I would do everything to stay there throughout the race. This was well worth the little more wind to avoid the yo-yo, erratic breaking in corners, and crashes which Steve narrowly avoided.

As soon as the race started, I knew it would be good day. While not planned, the elusive good form was there baby! I felt great throughout the race. I spent most of the race sitting very comfortably in 3rd thru 5th position but ignoring the premes. I was hoping for a break but nothing seemed promising- just a few solo half-hearted digs. The pack would always accelerate on the corner before the final straight but the pace seemed otherwise fast but reasonable. Before I knew it, it was 2 laps to go. I somehow got stuck on the front but I was soft pedaling and joking to those behind me that "this is not where I want to be". Eventually, a surge passed me but I was ready. I avoided getting boxed in.

1 lap to go. I was ready for the final lap mayhem. I felt good but wisely decided a solo attack at a half mile+ out would be suicide in the final long headwind stretch. I hit the final corner in maybe 10th. The chaotic sprints hit but it was total disorganization on the wide road. I did not have a promising leadout but it was showtime-the part of the race that really matters. I began my long never-ending headwind sprint (it felt like 400 meters). I reved the legs up realizing that sprinting is more about leg speed than strength. I gave it my all and actually picked up several spots and closed on the winner. I got 6th-well beyond last year's wild future expectations and not bad for a non-sprinter.

Crit #2 Coal miner's classic: Eric (aka lead out man extraordanaire) already had a great write-up so I'll try to keep it brief.

After working since early morning and arranging for a few hours of work coverage, I reluctantly drove to the Coal miner's classic. Even as I drove up to the venue, I considered turning home for a nap instead. But, I had such good form the day before I had to push my luck. Fortunately, shortly after parking I immediately ran into Dave K, Dave T, Kevin G, and Eric. My energy level immediately ramped up. I chatted with Dave K with whom I am steadily gaining sandbagger status after telling him I was just hoping to finish. Later I saw Brad, Bill, Mike, Brian H, Steve, Brian M, and Kevin A. It was great to have so many BSV folks to race with and cheering/coaching.

What a fun course on another great sunny day! I felt like I was on a Le mans speedway. I started on the front and to my surprise I felt great again. I stayed top 5 for most of the race. Bill T made it into the first of 2 break attempts. Immediately, 3 of us were on the front blocking with another Colo Bike law guy who had a teammate in the break. But, the break never really organized and was soon chased down by other racers. Later, after a preme, I found myself in a group of 5 with a gap. A break formed and stayed away for 2 to 3 laps but not everybody was working hard enough. We were eventually swallowed by the chasing pack but a big thanks to my teammates for blocking. With 2 laps to go, Mike Dancel shot to the front and led for a lap- Mike, like all the BSV guys I saw near the front was strong. But, I wish he used that strength more wisely.

On the final lap, a Tokyo Joe's guy launched a bold attack from a 1/3 mile out. He caught us sleeping. I was too close to the front to see it and too slow to respond. I would have loved to have made this winning move or thought of it. I waited for a chase-nothing. So, I chased but was not sure I could bridge without bringing the pack-which I led to the final turn. We hit the final stretch. I told Eric not to get boxed in and he hit the gas. I jumped on his wheel. A long train formed to the left and it was Eric leading me out on the right. Eric gave a heroic effort. I shot off his wheel at about 50 to 100 meters to grab 5th place. Eric gave me a great leadout to give BSV a 5th place. He held on for 13th and Brian H shot thru the field for 17th. Great job to all! Sorry to hear about your crash Kevin but I'm happy to hear you're ok. There is no question we have the strong guys to win one of these with a little more tactical work and a 2 man lead out. Too bad Brian H wasn't on my wheel. I look forward to racing with all of you again!


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