Welcome back to another anticipated race report. Right after a race (especially the good one’s) I’m compelled to jump on my blog site and write about the events which unfolded. Lately I’ve been trying to harness my composure in regards to compulsive blog writing or the need to put words on a page based solely on recent events or situations.
With that said, last weekend I cracked the top 10 at the Coal Miner’s Criterium. This was not one of my “A” races of the season and with no high expectations on the outcome the pressure to succeed was off the table. Sometimes going into a race with this type of mentality can put your body in a relaxed state and you can merely focus on the task and not worry too much about the result. I arrived at the race sight and right away I noticed a small women’s 1/2/3 field starting. There must have been only 15 women or so. This gave me the feeling there might only be 30 or so guys in my race. I believe there were still around 40-50 riders at the start.
The Cat3 race started before mine and I spent some time warming up while watching the race. An athlete I coach Steve Hageman was in the 3’s and looked strong sitting in the top 10. Two of his teammates got themselves into a breakaway early on with one other rider from another team. It was great to watch two guys from the same team working together to isolate the solo rider, especially when these guys were on the team I raced for! You could see the tired expressions on their face as they took turns at the front trying to distance themselves from the main peloton. Steve played a great team role controlling and monitoring the front of the main pack. A few times I saw him on the front and got nervous but he looked in control and poise to have a good race. Indeed, he did have a good race. The breakaway held all the way until the final lap where the field reeled them in. Steve had a good position coming into the sprint finish and took 6th for the day. His highest placing as a category 3 racer. Congrats Steve! Another athlete I coach James Scully took 3rd in the category 4 field. Congrats to James!
I had a suttle warm up with my friend Evan who is here in Colorado for the summer working for USAC. We both races together back on the east coast. It was nice to have an east coast racer here in the rockies. It helps put into perspective the differences between racing here and in the BIG APPLE. We chatted a bunch on the open rural roads surrounding the Criterium course. The course itself was a wide maze though an industrial corporate section of Louisville. Unlike the pervious race in Louisville “Lucky Pie Criterium” this course offered plenty of room to move back and forth. The problem having a Criterium with a wide roads are the plentiful attacks that come from riders.
From the start of this race there were attacks every lap, on every turn, and on every flat. It was a tough day and again I found myself going back and forth through the field. Unlike the Lucky Pie Crit, you didn’t need to worry as much about your position in this race. It was easy to move up the field because of the wide lanes. I had a lot of teammates in this race and it made me feel a bit secure that one of us would have a good day on the saddle. I woke up (as I seem to always do) when there were 5-6 laps left in the race. Just at this point my teammate Taylor made a huge attack and went off the front with two other riders. Guys were still attacking left and right with counterattacks thereafter. I started to notice their distance increasing on the field. I began to think a late break might stick. With 2 laps remaining they were brough back and a rider jumped solo and everyone pretty much let him go. He had the largest gap of the day and if the field had slow-pedaled for just a little he might have held it. With one lap to go I sensed my legs were not too fatigued anymore. Sometimes this will happen during a race as I’ll get a second wind and feel completely rested and in control of my body and bike. I also talk to myself a lot during the last few laps. “relax, control your body, only a few more laps to go.” Words of this nature. It’s a major motivational boost to the system! After the second turn on the last lap I had a good position sitting about 10 deep. I would have preferred to sit 5th or 6th but 10 deep isn’t so bad with wide roads. Coming into the last turn a rider totally knocked me off my line and thinking it was my fault gave me his choice of swear words. Now we were in the finishing straight away. It was a long flat finish with a slight rise in the road and a small headwind. I had lost my line and the top 5 guys already had a half bikes length. Ugh! I was pissed. In a split second I needed to make a decision, so without much hesitation I jumped to the far right side of the road and made my own “train” to the finish. I ended up passing two more guys on the way to the line and when I crossed I was 8th. I made the tactical error of becoming a bit too passive towards the end and ultimately sacrificing my line. My teammate Mike Giem finished 5th on the day. Congrats! He is a great sprinter and always chooses good lines for Criteriums.
Coming into the finish.
Crossing the line (on the left) in a boat load of pain.
I felt a bit nauseous after the race. During the last few laps my mouth felt like the Sahara Desert. I made the mistake of only having 1 1/2 bottles. I didn’t fully fill my second bottle up as my mouth went completely dry in the last few laps and I found it hard to swallow. I did a halfhearted cool down and hung around the results area to pick up some prize money. Overall it was a great day and my first top 10 finish in a Pro 1/2 field.
Originally I had planned on racing the Dead Dog State Race in WY but the idea started to slowly dwindle after seeing pictures of the laden of snow on the race course. Plus seeing only 10 guys signed up on the registration list doesn’t make for much of a race. I have been tinkering on the idea of racing the Winter Park XC MTB race series this weekend.
I hope everyone is having a great Spring/Summer!