Sunday, September 24, 2006

Venice Crit

Yesterday was the downtown Venice crit in Florida. I have always liked this course because it is technical and favors small breakaway groups because there are a lot of tight turns. I also like this course because I won here as a cat three and had a plan of what I wanted to do going into the race. The course is maybe around 1.5 k long. It starts out with a fast 90, then another 90, then there is a curve that takes the group through a sharp 150 to two tight 90s, down about 150 meters to a tight 180/ U-Turn about 50-75 meters before the line. The pro 1,2 race was 90 minutes plus five laps. Usually the first person in this turn wins the race. I had one teammate in David Guttenplan. The race started with attacks from the gun. I got in all the moves that I could until I spent all of my firepower and could only chase stuff down. After I had no snap I would chase groups back, and they would be really mad at me because I brought the whole group. Then David got in one group and I had a chance to rest up a bit. I went with a counter of 4 guys and we started to work. Then I think some guys bridged up to us making us a group of ten. Then Bobby Sweeting (NERAC/ Outdoor Lights), a local kid, attacked our group. Ivan Franco (VisionQuest) bridged up to Bobby. Shortly after this Joel Chavez (Vista Velo) got up with Bobby and Ivan. I just thought uh oh I gotta get up there. After all these attacks my group became 5 guys, and two of them were Vista Velo, so they wouldn't work with us to catch Joel. The gap was 15 seconds now, and I just knew I had to get up the road to that group. So, I started going crazy and taking risks in the turns and got a gap with only one Vista Velo rider on me. He crashed in the 180 when I had about 5 or 6 seconds to the leaders. I felt crappy possibly from my early efforts but knew I would be happy if I got in that group, and I eventually made after about two laps of chasing. Once I got in that group we just rolled through, increasing our lead on the peloton. We got away about 30' into the race, and I knew it was going to be a long day. We all pretty much did equal work, but sometimes Ivan would take a long hard pull. This is more or less all we did the whole time we were away. I felt bad when I first got the group, but as we settled in a rythm I started feeling better and better. Towards the end of the day I realized I was taking the turns better than all the other guys in my group. With five laps to go we had almost lapped the peloton, so we slowed the pace down because we didn't want to get back in the bunch because that would comlicate things. Going into the last lap I decided that I wanted last wheel. I jumped with all I had for the 150, just like I did when I won the race in cat 3, but Ivan saw me and also jumped beating me there. He took the next 90 too fast and ended up on the outhside of the cones separating the course. I just kept it going hard through the next 90. I sprinted for the 180 as I was catching the peloton. I saw a hole on the inside of the turn. I figured the people in the peloton could act as blockers for my breakaway companions. Ijumped in the hole as I skidded my back wheel through the 180, not panicking at all. I managed to keep it upright through the 180. (I guess my goof off rides on dirt roads and mountain bike trails paid off today!) I gased it through to the line and won. I am very happy because this was my first pro 1,2 race win, and I hope I can keep improving from now on.

Georgia Cup Lagrange

Last weekend was the Georgia Cup race in Lagrange Georgia. It started off with a 5.9 K prologue. When I first checked out the course I thought it would suit me well. There were a few short hills, a longer gradual climb and a fast descent. There were a total of three fast turns I think. There were also a few other turns that were at the top of hills and slow, so they didn't matter that much. When I was going up the first hill I realized I wasn't on a super day, so I just told myself to rail it as much as I could and I'd still probably do well. I ended up ninth on the stage with a time of 6'42" which was 20 seconds behind the winner. My teammate Tim Henry was 8th about one second faster than me.
That night there was a downtown crit that took place on some of the same roads as the prologue. It had six 90 degree turns and was about one k long. We did 50 laps. It went left for the first three turns then a right and two more lefts to the finish. There was also a short 50 meter climb between turns 2 and three. The Subaru team started 6 guys: Rob Gable, Tim Henry, Wes Garland, David Guttenplan, and me. It was a really good race for us because at any given point one of us was off the front. David was off the front for quite a bit with another guy at the begining of the race. Then shortly after that Tim was off the front from about 20 to go to 10 to go. As soon as Tim was caught I jumped and rolled pretty much solo from then even though I was very tired and cramping. Another guy bridged up to me, worked with me for two laps, was slowing me down, so I just jumped him. By this point my calves were cramping like no tomorrow and I was really tired, but I just tried to keep rolling with the effort with the group ranging from 8 to 20 seconds behind me. With about 1.5 laps to go the group was on my heels and swallowed me up. Tim ended up our best finisher as 6 and David was 14th I think. After I got caught I rolled back through the field like a cannonball floats in water. But I was happy with my aggressive race and maybe if I keep racing like that I can win solo some time.
The next race was the road race which was to be 3 laps on a 30 mile course, but all these guys complained about it being the last road race of the year and they shortened it to two laps. This really annoyed me and was probably a sign of things to come. Tim was sitting 8th in the omnium points at this point, so we wanted to work for him. The race was on a rolling course and there was more or less no wind. The race was very negative all day. Groups would go up the road and groups would be chased back and then nothing for a while. That is how it was all day. Then Tim and David got in a big group with about 20 miles to go that looked promising because all the teams were represented. Then Eric Murphy from Aerospace dropped out of the front group and that break was doomed from then on because Aerospace started to bring it back with about 10k to go. I was just sitting too far back and being dumb. I planned on moving up with ten k to go and the group just remained bunched up and slow until the sprint. Therefore, I couldn't really find any holes to move up and probably ended up around 15th in the race. This weekend was pretty good for the team, but we really never got anything together in the end.