Monday, July 14, 2008

Think Outside of the Box

Here's my report for the Rocky Mounts/Izze Louisville criterium on Saturday, July 12th. Last year, I thought about signing up for this crit on race day, but it rained in the morning, so I went back to bed, only to find the weather turn to blue skies a couple hours later. Figures. This Saturday, the weather was perfect, mostly sunny and under 70 degrees for the 8:30 start time of the 35+/4 race.

I was super excited to register for this race as it's about a mile from my home in Louisville. About an hour before the race, I rode my bike over to the registration tent to get my race number. Right after, I had nature break impending, so I had the luxury to ride back to my home and use the home toilette instead of the usual port-a-let. On the way back, I passed Steve Capstick riding in for registration and we exchanged "morning" greetings.

After getting ready to roll, I headed back to the race start to meet up with Steve, Jason Kaminski and Brad Erdner. The start of the 35+/4 field had about 70 or so riders, and us Blooskees were bunched in the middle for the starting gun. The race started off pretty quick and I got stuck in the back of the pack at the get go. So, I spent the first few laps moving up a few places to get near the front.

I saw Jason and Steve battling it out on the upward leg-burning stretch of each lap. All of the riders were suffering a bit on the ascent during this early morning start time. I finally was able to settle in a nice rhythm, and slowly moved into 10-15th place when the first prime lap was announced. Rob 'Lumberjack' Kelly (you know what I mean if you saw him) took the first prime sprint and the race strung out a bit to reel this dangerous guy back in.

After the pace settled down again, we were getting close to the halfway point of this 45 minute race. I was sitting close to 5th place as we came back up the leg-burner stretch when a Mix-1 rider and a couple others accelerated in what looked like a breakaway attempt. Since I was right near the front I marked this move as quickly as I could. As we came by the finish line for another lap, the officials rang the bell and yelled "Prime Lap".

I was huffing and puffing while I recovered from marking the accelerations and the lead riders got some sense in them and settled down as we headed down the frontside of the lap. As we came around the bottom of the hill and started back up the ascent, I found myself in 3rd position going back up to the finish. The two riders in front were holding their tempo with about 1/4 lap to go, so I took the chance and attacked on the steepest part of the climb (okay, maybe 4% grade, but it hurt). I caught them both by surprise and quickly had 25m on both of them. Nobody else bridged across and I kept my tempo up and grabbed the prime all alone. Sweet! My first ever prime sprint award!

I looked back to see if anyone else was going to bridge, but no one came. If I had better fitness, I might have worked to stay off the front and wait for some help in a breakaway, but I decided it was better to wait for the pack and settle back in.

The group rode together for the final prime and a lap later or so they announced 5 laps to go. The pace picked up a bit each lap and everyone got a little more nervous. I kept my top 10 position and decided to move up to the front with 2 laps to go. When we came up the last uphill to the finish line I found myself in 3rd place again. As we rolled around the backside, the riders in front eased off and I decided to soft pedal to conserve energy for the final lap. Bad idea. Before I knew it the pack had swarmed around me and I got boxed in with no room to counter left or right.

As we came around for the final bell lap, I desperately looked for opportunities to move up a notch or too, but the pace was all out. On the final uphill to the finish, everyone was starting to max their pace, except for the guy in front of me, and I got boxed in yet again. I finally came around on the crest of the hill to take 19th at the line. Jason finished in a respectable 26th, considering only 33 riders finished out of a 70 rider field.

I'm a bit disappointed as I let myself get boxed in with a 1-1/2 laps to go. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Oh well, I'll chalk this one up to experience and try not to let it happen again. In any case, I can savor my first prime sprint award as a reminder of my good form on Saturday.


1 comment:

Rob Kelly said...

Eric great post. I hope people don't start calling me lumberjack.