I traveled up to lovely Merced on Friday night with teammate Cookie and local strongman Adrian and his girlfriend Anna.
First a quick update on the Pro/1 Crit which I enjoyed watching after my race on Saturday. It was especially enjoyable since Adrian worked his way into a 8-man break with Horner, Jacque-Maynes, Borrajo and other notables. The group worked well together and quickly built up a 45 second advantage which they held for a long time. Horner jumped with ~10 laps to go bringing Borrajo with him. Adrian jumped to close the gap and brought Jacque-Maynes half way up but couldn't finish closing the gap and fell back into the second break of 5 which soon later got gobbled up by the pack. Horner went on to lap the field and Adrian still had enough energy to sprint for a respectable 14th place out of the huge 120+ man pack. Good racing! It was great to see Adrian do so well. Cycling news has a good writeup
on the 200km Pro/1 road race if you are interested.
Crit Race Report:
We did 40 laps and 32 miles in the Cat 2 race around a technical course with 3 sweeping corners and tight S-turn section. Unfortunately I was without a teammate since Cookie came down with the flu on Saturday morning and went to stay the rest of the weekend with his mother who picked him up. Poor guy!! Not knowing how I would stack up against almost 100 other guys, my admittedly aggressive goals were ride at the front, avoid crashes and try to place in the top 5. I stayed in the middle of the pack for the first handful of laps and hated being there so worked my way to the front and stayed there for the remainder of the race. It is always more work being in or towards the front in a crit, but you are positioned to counter any attacks and also are less likely to go down in any big pileups. There were two big crashes and I avoided them both. My third goal would be more elusive.
With 3 laps to go the pace picked up as usual and I was at the front with Gunn-Wilkinson from 5 Star fish (who placed well at SNSR and Valley of Sun) and Nick from UCSB who was racking up $50 primes like it was his job. The finishing straight had a gnarly head wind and I don't put out peak power like the big boys so hoped to grab a good wheel towards the front of the field and jump late. I was 4th wheel on the second to last corner and missed the surge to my right which placed me about 12th in the last corner. I was able to accelerate and pick up a few places and finish 8th. Nick got first and Gunn-Wilkinson 4th. My power was 1000W which is what I put out at the crit at the Southern Nevada Stage Race. Pretty pathetic.
Road Race Report:
The road race would take us 4 times around a 24 mile loop for a fast 96 miler. The course had some tough rollers, wind and bad pavement. I was motivated to go good and figured that Tom Githens (LaGrange) and Gunn-Wilkinson (5-star) who are both on the verge of upgrading would be the guys to beat. Speculating that these two wouldn't want a bunch sprint I set a goal of riding towards the front where they would inevitably be and get into a successful break with them. Goals and tactics in races are easy to dream up but are always hard to execute. After 2 fast ass laps of attacks and counter attacks I decided at the beginning of lap 3 that I was ready to join in on the fun. I had been marking Githens and Gunn-W but hadn't put in any digs of my own yet. I put in two attacks early in the lap and got a gap at one point hoping Githens and Gunn-W would bridge to no avail. The teams with representation weren't letting anything get away and I feared a bunch sprint at the end. Half way into the 3rd lap on a windy downhill of all places I was pulling at the front and Gunn-W said "we have a gap". I looked around and found that there were 8 of us with a gap including Githens and Gunn-W and I said "this is the right mix, let's go". There was also a Sho-Air guy, a UC Davis guy, a Swamis guy, a Now guy and one other dude so only Metromint and a few other teams weren't represented. We put in a big effort for a few minutes and quickly had a 1 minute gap.. Of the 8 in the break only 5 of us were working and we were yelling at the other guys to come through. When they did they slowed us down so we forced them out of the rotation. Githens, Sho-Air, Gunn-W and I were doing all of the work and were maintaining a pace of ~26-27mph. I kept talking to the guys and wanted to go harder (I felt great) but I was reassured that we were going hard enough. I wasn't taking longer pulls but picked up the pace when it was my turn and only Gunn-W seemed to be doing the same. I was somewhat concerned that I would burn myself out and lose out in the final sprint but I wanted to make it stick more than anything. With 9km to go we had 55 seconds on the field and we picked up the pace and were able to hold 'em off. We dropped one of the guys on the second to last climb and were still rotating with only 5 of the remaining 7. I looked back at 5km to go and told the 2 clingers that they better not sprint and we tried to no avail on the last remaining climb to drop them. The cat and mouse game started with 1 mile to go and we continued to rotate through but took slower pulls. I planned on jumping at 200 meters but big man Sho Air guy went first. I jumped after he already had 3 bike lengths and I couldn't close the gap. I finished 2nd, NOW guy (clinger #1) finished 3rd, Gunn-W 4th, UC Davis 5th, Githens 6th and Clinger #2 7th. Finishing sprint power ~960W. Average speed 25.6mph.