21 May Elgin Crit P/1/2/3
Because of some life things (and some helping with race things), the few days leading up to the race were out of my routine. I don’t like being out of my routine prior to a race and related or not, I felt like crap Friday and Saturday. Still, I was looking forward to the weekend. It was the first time all four of us (Nick, Joel, Ryan and I) would be racing together.
I managed to screw up my clip-in and started the race at the back. The race started off at a decent clip but I was able to move up to mid-pack within a few laps. I wanted to get closer to the front but figured there was no rush, we were only 15 minutes in and it was hot as hell and I just didn’t feel good.
Then I saw Alex Bowden (Team Type 1) fly off the front. “Crap, that’s the move” I thought, and I was stuck in the middle of fodderville. That was a mistake. No one was going with him, which bewildered the hell out of me. A pro shows up and the peloton is just going to ignore him rolling off the front? WTF. That’s about when I saw a blue Enzo’s kit rolling away free in chase, it was Nick. “Oh, good.” I thought, roaring to the front of the pack. I don’t remember who it was, but shortly after getting to the front few wheels, someone attacked after Nick who now about a 10 second gap. I hopped on for the ride and was pleased to see that no one came with us.
Eventually the guy died and I could tell he wasn’t going to get me up to Nick and Alex himself, and I was caught in no-man’s land with him so I started to put in a good effort. Soon after that I see a blue kit roar by me. Ryan was in full-chase mode so I got on his wheel and was again happy to see that the other guy didn’t have the gas and was drifting back to the pack. Ryan pulled most of the way up to Alex and Nick. 22 minutes in and Enzo’s has 3 of their 4 guys 20+ seconds up the road with a UCI licensed pro. Cool.
There was only one problem: I was really not feeling it. I probably pooched my warmup. Mistake #2 (or would that be #1). Nick and Ryan were trading pulls, with Alex outgunned 3-1 he wasn’t going to pull through. I knew that the field would be chasing and here I am sitting on while my two teammates are trying to work, all the while pulling around a pro for free. I was not being productive. I tried to come around Alex to give Nick and Ryan a rest but that didn’t go well. This is testament to Nick and Ryan’s motors and a statement of my pre-race prep. Crap. I hadn’t completely blown up but I felt it nearing.
I made the decision to sit up, catch my breath and go back to the field to try and salvage that part of the race. I was very surprised at how far back the pack was, which was good. The timing was such that they reached me at turn 3, which gave me a chance to set a nice pace going through the chicane.
I spent some time near the front watching for people to try and get away. There were many strong attempts but the field was way too eager and on one actually broke free. Although I picked up a $50 prime at some point, I should have just gone to the back of the pack and waited for the lapping of the field. Mistake #3.
Nearing 40minutes into the 60min race Ryan roars by on the left. This was when I realized I was not where I needed to be. He kept on roaring through the field but I wasn’t in a position to offer any assistance. Much to my dismay, McVey was and got on Ryan’s wheel, he and Ryan got a very minor gap, I knew I screwed the pooch again. The field caught them quickly and I had an opportunity to get Ryan on my wheel because of where he was positioned. I made sure he was on, and we had some separation, and I attacked like hell putting in a big effort for half a lap. Now Ryan and I just kept rotating, with him doing the bulk of the work.
I looked behind me and saw a group bridging up, as my memory tells it, it included Bryan McVey (ABD), Scott Pearson, Chris Curran (Sammy’s), Nate Iden (Burnham) and one other I didn’t know. Ryan and I had no idea how far up the road Nick was and we didn’t want to help the field catch him so I sat on the rear to collect myself. Eventually, and much to my delight, Alex was within sight and drifting back to us. Now we’re racing for 3rd again. Very cool. I later learned that Ryan attacked the break just after Alex came off his pull, and shortly thereafter Nick attacked Alex. Perfectly executed.
We were informed of no actual number, but assured from the sideline that Nick was “Way up the road”. Not very reassuring, though it turned out to be true. Based on the course, and watching a few previous races, I knew that to win the sprint you had to be 1st or right on 1st’s wheel coming out of the chicane. And to do that, I knew you had to be first out of turn 3. This was my plan.
Going through with 2 laps to go a $20 prime was called. I’m not sure everyone heard it. I’m pretty positive Scott did. I was pretty confident I knew how he’d handle it. My guess was that he would drift to the back and launch an attack going into the bell lap with the intention of picking up $20 and maybe hanging on for 3rd. I kept my eye on him and did my best to let that not happen. He never did attack and rolling through the line no one was trying to get the prime so I just put in enough effort to be first across the line. ZOINK! $20.
As soon as we went through turn 1, Ryan gets in front of me so we’re sitting 1 and 2. I assume his intention is to hammer it out to the finish to try and lead me out. I assume that everyone else is under the same assumption. It was perfect. Just prior to turn 3 I click down, stand up, and attack as hard as I could. He sort of gives me a look like “Ok, do it that way” as I pass. I take the turn as hot as I can and stand up and hammer up to the chicane. The gap I had was bigger than I could have anticipated which is awesome. I was consistently taking the chicane faster than everyone that day, often gapping the person behind me unintentionally and being confused as to why people were braking in it when I was behind them.
I went through the turn perfectly, curb to curb, certainly no brakes. I stand up and take a peak back, Chris Curran is chasing and I know he’s got a sprint, but I’m confident I’m in the clear, crossing the line knowing that we just swept the podium. Freaking awesome team. And that was Elgin as I saw it.
A great race weekend put on by PSIMET. If you missed it this year, don’t make the same mistake next year.