Great race weekend here in MABRA land. Big rolling RR on Saturday (Walkersville) followed by a brutally hard non-technical crit (tysons) on Sunday.
Walkersville - Masters 30+/40+ full field, loaded with Cat 1s and 2s and very heavy on the sprinters. Course is rolling but not selective, about 8 miles/lap, 7 laps for 56 miles. Team had 4 guys, 1 who focuses on the M30+ BAR. Given the field and our small team, we decided that we'd race attentively and reactively, just make sure if something was cookin' we were in it. Our plan was to have one team mate (who also brouses BF, I'll let him identify himself if he wants to) cover early moves, then have me bridge to him if something looked good, then cover mid - late moves, and in the last lap attack and either get away or make sure the field had a carrott so the finish was fast - that's the way our M30+ guy likes it.
Early move guy covered great, but nothing was sticking. A few breaks looked promising, so I expended energy bridging and counter attacking a couple times, but we were reeled in each time. Race got parade like mid-way through so I took a couple of flyers, but I'm just not cut from the "long solo for the win" cloth. Finally last lap, things are all together and I'm itching to go. There is a climb early in the lap, maybe the 2 mi. in point, I got up to the front on the downhill into it and attacked like a crazy person, this drew out a few others, including the 30+ BAR champ (non-sprinter). Then things got stupid fast. We got a good gap over the field, with 2 mi. to go, there is a straightaway, stairstep climb, right turn and 500M to a flat narrow finish. Straightaway, 2 team mates (edit: not my team mates, on another team) who were with us attack, I'm out of position and cant get to it right away, let another guy drag me part way there, he cracks. I'm off, we get to the stair steps just as I'm making contact - I needed to recover for a split second, then a decision - do I attack or let these 2 take me to the finish, even if 2nd wheel is much faster than me. While I'm considering what to do, I hear the hum of the field behind me, closing in fast. I instinctively jumped and started my sprint at the 1K. At 500M I thought I was going to win - nothing but the finish line in front of me, a small gap behind me. Unfortunately, the sprinter teams had other ideas and at 300M I was swallowed whole - sat up. Mistake I made was when I made contact with the 2 riders up, I should have either gone straight over top of them or stayed put. I chose incorrectly. C'est la vie. Team mates took 4th, 5th, and 8th in the field sprint. Me = DFL.
Tysons Corner Crit. Industrial Park crit, 60 mins. Non-techical 1.1-mile course but it has a very selective power climb at the start/finish. Full field, 100 - 125, dont remember. Team had a full compliment of riders (6 of us). Our plan was simple, drill the hill until the race cracked wide open. The hill starts at the bottom of a very fast section, then has a hard left turn and hammer to the top. We planned to have one rider hammer to the turn then another jam it over the top. Whoever got there first lap was supposed to drop it, whoever was 2nd was supposed to keep it going, then the next 2 were supposed to be ready to pounce. We worked it perfectly - 1st lap, team mate got us to the turn then I drilled the rest of the hill. Next lap, another team mate took it to the turn and I drilled the hill again. Next few laps, I dont remember because I was going so hard no one was coming around me and I was blinded by pain, spitting up in my mouth, gasping for air, but knew it was my role today. At about 8 laps in, I was getting to the "I'm going to have to drop out" point when an attack was launched behind me and boom, my two guys were right there in it! I drifted back to the field to recover - about 10 guys up the road, including my 2, one of whom is still finding his finishing legs, but the other is a proven, fearless, strong finisher. Perfect.
We spent the next several laps controlling the front of the race. My team has a policy, we dont "block". Instead, we rode uncooperatively and were willing to get a free ride if someone tried to bridge, or if another team was assembling at the front, we'd launch a pseudo-attack just to through off their rythm. Man, that is very, very hard, but we got it done, break stuck. 2 laps to go, there are 4 of us in the field and the break was going to stick. Our sprinter wanted us to "line it up" and really finish off the race in style. We started the train at the start finish line - I got to be 1st. Had to dangle off to the side and hold back a bit to make sure the others hooked up with me, once they did, it was game on. I was hammering for all I was worth down hill at about 40 mph, it was utter agony. 2nd wheel was talking me through it, encouraging me to get them up the 1st part of the hill and through the last turn, gawd did that hurt, finally made it to the last turn, about 500M to the finish where I pulled off - definitely bleeding from both eyes! Our lead out train stomped it through the finish, unfortunately our sprinter "Pettachied" and took 2nd in the sprint. Took me 5 mins to go the last 200M.
Our "fearless strong finisher" won from the break . Perfect race for our team other than not finishing out the field sprint, but it was just for show and nothing but grins on the line.
I can honestly say I've never gotten so much satisfaction while racing than as yesterday. I've been fortunate enough to win, including one at an NRC event, but knowing that I launched the break that our team won from, helped control the race when things got off, and did a money lead out was really the bomb.
Racing = fun
Winning = more fun
Winning as a team = AWESOME!