Winfield Twilight Crit p/1/2
Every year, ABD host the Twilight criterium in Winfield, followed up Sunday by the ABR National Criterium Championship, also in held Winfield. The “cool factor” of the Saturday evening event is, the neighborhood the course goes through, has passionate cycling fans so ABD allows them to call the king of the hill primes as they wish. They give all sorts of awesome prizes away rewarding one for the large effort it takes being first to the top of this 1/4 mile 3% grade. They also pass the hat, creating a large cash prime for the 1-2-3 race, we will get to that.
The insane part of this story is the race that was going on when we arrived. Rachel, my youngest daughter, came with to watch and cheer/heckle the old man, while I try to battle with the kids.The radar was a question before we departed from home and the entire drive the skies were ominous.
We arrive and the rain had started, light rain so I would still be racing. We walk to the start/finish line & tent city and register for the race. It does not matter what the weather is going to do. I see Vince (Village CycleSport) and we talk about the dark skies, as the rain starts again. The three of us head for the larger tent seeking shelter from the increasing rain. Now it is a full downpour and I start laughing loudly because the Cat 3′s are racing, laughing again thinking about it.
This is not your average rain; it is 2 inch per hour rain that one would experience in the tropics. Yes, the boys look like drowned rats racing their asses off, I’m laughing again. I am reminded of a line from a “Faith No More” song, “It is always funny until someone gets hurt, and then it is just hilarious.”
Now the heavy part of the storm hits, bringing hail the size of large blueberries which last about 5-7 minutes. I watch the boys riding in the hail laughing uncontrollably, some of the people under the tent are looking at me like I am crazy. I cannot help myself; this is completely stupid, racing in a full blown hail storm, knowing how badly that hurts.
They finally call the race, but the damage has been done and everyone that kept racing now has welts on their arms and legs, nice.
Vince asks me if I am still going to race, I have my number so I am in. As the storm passes, about 20 minutes, Rachel and I walk back to the car, turn the heat on and start getting ready for the 1-2-3 race.
Happy to have my trainer I set it up under a close tree and start my warm up. I am happy to have a sample of Enzo’s new Oil Stick, being the perfect conditions – wet and cool – for this product. A quick 15 minutes and I’m off to the starting line. No chance for a lap, we are staging, no big deal. We are starting on time, who would have thought? The official tells us there will be a cash prime at the top of the hill on the second lap, expanding on the theme, saying the prime will be worth $270.00. Now wishing I had a better warm up, I figure everyone is in the same boat. The whistle blows, moving into 3rd or 4th wheel, I want to stay up front for the downhill section, not knowing if it is slick.
People are using their brakes so I do not get to find out if I can go fast through the corners, though it seems like my tire pressure is good at 78psi. The bell is ringing and the sprint up the hill starts early, as Andy Crater, Ryan Freund and Hogan Sills are all going for the cash. Hogan takes the prime. Having gained a split, Hogan in Mike Ebert fashion keeps on the gas and the first break of the race has started. ABD should block having 6 guys in the race and I decide to push the pace up the hill. At the top there is a gap so I continue and bridge to Hogan. His pedal stroke is somewhat labored so I pass him and set tempo up the hill. He pulls through at the top and we are working together nicely. This lasts a few laps when the Bam (Ryan Freund) arrives with Andy Crater, sweet.
It is a little early for the winning break but this group has plenty of watts to do it. We all start working and gain about 25-30 seconds in 3 laps, as Andy scolds me for pulling too hard on the uphill. I apologize, and ease off thinking this will be good later in the race, pulling hard up the hill. There are a few more guys that are trying to bridge with Bryan McVey being the only one to make it. After settling in, Bryan goes to the front pulling full gas up the hill, clearly trying to hurt us for his two team mates. This backfires on him and with me pulling really hard after him, then Andy does the same, now we are back to 4 guys.
Somewhere around 6-7 laps to go the attacks start and Hogan is the next to leave the group. 3 laps to go and Crater sets an extremely hard tempo up the hill while Bam and I keep it rolling on the downhill. Again Crater drills us up the hill with Bam attacking close to the top and Andy allows the gap to open. I quickly jump across to Bam, now we are 2 with 1.5 laps to go. We get the bell while Ryan drills it hard up the hill, I attack him at the top, but he is able to close the gap, as he goes to the front. I like this and sit in for the 1 up sprint. Out of the last corner we go full gas and I lose to Bam in a bike throw, maybe 4-5 inches. I am the first looser, but happy to find a 2nd place in the kids race.
ABR National Criterium Championship
After watching the Enzo’s Master’s have their way with the 30/40+ field, with Gene Tolli winning the race, I am really excited to race today. Ok, that was just an additional log to the fire; yesterday’s 2nd place in the 1-2-3 race has me feeling competitive. I love today’s course because the hill is steeper than last night’s track, better for a light guy. The weather is perfect mid 80′s with enough wind going against the downhill section it will make descending more difficult, not being able to coast. Bob Karlow informs me that a few of the boys are going to double up, so I will have help, awesome another log. We also have two of the Cat 1-2 boys, a new squad for us. This new squad will be effective next year but these guys were excited to be in the Enzo’s kit, so I gave them the green light to wear their new stuff. Tim Special and Nick Ramirez (Enzo’s 1-2′s) Bob Karlow, Gene Tolli, Brian Karlow and I make up the squad, wow, we look great on paper.
The race begins as we plan on following wheels. This is a 40 mile crit with a 6% hill every lap. 40 laps always seems difficult by the end of the day in the 1-2′s field, and this year, ABR is allowing the 3′s to race with us. Lap two and a break is off, Cory Hickman (Scarlet Fire Racing) and Ben Damhoff (ABD). I laugh thinking this is way too early but we want to watch how this unfolds, having two teams represented. Sure enough they start gaining because their guys are blocking nicely. Lap 4 at the top of the hill I set a nice tempo and have a 20 bike gap, I did not try to do this but sometimes the race comes to you, so I decided to carry on, bridging after turn one. As I passed the start line I check the lap counter which reads 36, confirming this is quite an aggressive move. I will not go all in, waiting to see how this unfolds; I pull no harder than the other two. A few laps later we are joined by Andy Crater, Rob Kelly (Bicycle Heaven) and maybe 1-2 others, it is a little blurry. I remember Rob being there because Cory Hickman was yelling that everyone needs to pull or we would get caught. I am laughing because Cory is pulling way too hard and it is just a matter of time before he is not with us. I am taking my pulls. My DNA does not like me to skip pulls, though I will do whatever it takes (within the Rules) when necessary. Rob Kelly never shows his face at the front, but I do not care, my legs feel good and know we will lose what we do not use soon. Sure enough it is now the three of us Crater, Damhoff, and myself, the rest are going back to the field.
The next group that bridges with about 26 laps to go is a good size group, my two Enzo’s newbies, Nick, Tim, Bryan McVey, Bryce Mead, Ryan Freund (ABD) maybe another one or two. I am happy to have the kids here so I thought, until I see Tim is out of his mind. This is common to young riders that make a break with fast experienced racers. They seem to have a need to show how strong they are, which is a huge error. I love and hate this, the positive is Tim making the break in his first 1-2′s race, awesome, now he is trying to take himself out of it, though does not realize it. I remember when I rode like this, it is a frustrating time in ones racing career. As I softly tell Tim to be careful, that he is exposing himself to attacks, the words just leave my mouth and Ryan attacks really hard. Hits us with what I call, the “Louisville Slugger”, freaking home run with a big ass bat. Bam smashes the break into pieces with only Damhoff, McVey, Crater, and myself able to stay connected. The kids will learn fast receiving lessons like that, laughter. One minute I am a star, the next moment my team mates are asking why are you back? There is never a good answer as humility sets in.
So here we are 24 laps to do and it is 5 guys, 3 ABD’ers Crater and Enzo, not good odds for me. It is like a feeding frenzy, McVey is not pulling and the other two ABD’s are attacking about every 2 laps. With 15 to go Bryan explodes with a huge effort, gone. I do not think much of this since Bryan has not shown good TT power to me before, though his pedal stroke is looking smooth, with only a 10 second gap I can still evaluate this. I go to the front and pull steady being cautious of more attacks. 3 laps later and Bryan has opened the gap to 22 seconds, crap, looks like the kid has the legs today. I am now starting to feel the effects of yesterday’s efforts as well today’s. Andy is pulling like a beast with me giving help when I can. Bam and Ben are sitting on and will do this for the rest of the race, saving them self for a sprint. With 4 and 3 laps to go, Andy pulls really hard up the hill, I suspect to keep the other two from attacking, which is working. 2 laps to go, another hard hill pull, I decide to fake the kids out attacking around turn 3. This is fake because I have been cramping on the uphill the last 3 laps, when standing, while staying seated, the legs feel ok. I gain a small gap and go as hard as I can on the downhill, while seated I see 32 mph. We have not gone over 29 once since Bryan attacked, and at turn one I have at least 12 seconds, obviously no chasing by anyone. Sweet, just hold this to the top of the hill and you have second for sure, which is how it plays out. I feel like a victory, though I am the first looser again. I am happy, though always racing to win, this is bitter sweet. The bottom line is this, I am grateful to be able to race my bike at this age, and I thank God for that.
Kudos to Bryan McVey for winning with style, you have worked hard all season and today was your day. I know there are many people that are happy for you, I am one of those guys, congratulations.
Thank you to my team mates, I know you were working your asses off in the field blocking and covering moves all day. Everyone knows that without you guys that race would have looked very different.
Also thanks to Andy Crater for the huge efforts during the last 14 miles, and not chasing me in the end.
This could be the last road racing post for 2011, though I may go to St Louis for the Gateway Cup.
Either way, more reports to come, CycloCross is very close and Enzo has a full CX calendar for 2011/2012.