road rash/tree burn
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Chapel Hill, NC
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Race Report: Dixie Classic Crit #4
Last night was time for another Dixie Classic crit out in Winston-Salem NC. For those who aren't familiar with the course, it's an oval with one tight end, one wider end, and a chicane in the middle of the backstretch. The pavement, such as it is, is terrible, and there are expansion joints, concrete patches, manhole covers, and all sorts of other access plates scattered throughout the course. It's a challenging place to race.
One of my teammates and I went out to do the B race (combined 3/4). In the previous races I've done out there, I've finished in the top ten, but haven't ever managed to get a good placing. The pace tends to pick up so much in the final few laps that I find I can hold whatever position I have but can't come around some of the strong 3s who really fly down the final stretch of track to the finish line.
Over the weekend I had ridden hard on Saturday for a couple of hours in the rain, and then I spent about eight hours on the bike on Sunday doing several different rides with friends and teammates, so I had no idea how my legs were going to feel. I didn't feel particularly strong as we started off, but quickly got into the rhythm. An early break was brought in on the third or so lap, and then an acquaintance of mine from Sledgehammer Charlie's jumped off the pack and got away by a bit, so I bridged up to him.
The two of us took turns pulling and continued to gap the pack, but with the strong headwind we faced on the frontstretch and the speed we were having to hold to do so, we were feeling the pain within a few laps. Then three guys from ThomasBuilt Buses got away from the pack and bridged up to us. With their assistance, we were all able to lap the pack. It took between 10 and 15 minutes from breaking away to reintegrating, and it was a painful time, but it was definitely worth it! My teammate did what he could to help us get away, and fortunately the other guys in the break had teammates as well, so they helped keep the pack from chasing us too hard.
Once we got back into the group, those of us in the break worked our way toward the front (at one point getting run off the track and into the grass and gravel- lots of fun!) to pull back a group that was threatening to get away from the main field. After we covered that move, I found good position toward the front so I could easily cover anyone who tried to get away and spent most of the rest of the race covering such moves.
With ten laps to go, I sat up a bit to rest as much as I could before the final push, and then found good track position (fourth wheel) coming into the final few laps. With two to go I was in fourth wheel as the pace ramped up, and coming out of the final turn with just the frontstretch to go I was third wheel and jumped as quickly as I could. I don't have much in the way of sprinting legs, so I couldn't hold two of the guys from the break off and they took first and second, but I managed to hold on for third. My teammate achieved his objectives of learning that course, staying in the pack, and having a clean race.
It was a pretty good night, and now that the cat-3-ometer is registering about 120%, I'm going to submit for my 4 to 3 upgrade... wish me luck!