The ’10 season ended and the nightly dreams soon began to creep into my head; the dreams of what the upcoming season would hold. Will training harder this off-season make me any better, or will getting another year older just make my gains a net wash? What soldiers will I have by my side this year? How well will we work as a unit? Will this be the year that I return to being as good of a rider as I was when I was 20? Is this the year where I decide to give this racing thing up and just go back to “casually” riding my bike? Who knows.

Last week Rhythm Racing proved that they would be a squad to contend with in the 4’s just like Burnham is in the 3’s. Unfortunately despite having a good lineup of riders at the Autobahn, our results were stymied by us moving up too late in the race and 3 of us getting caught by the usually 2-to-go crash that always happens. Oh well, first race of the season is in the books and reminds me of all the mistakes I should not be making this year. I vowed that Super Crit would not go down the same way.

[b]30+ 4/5[/b]

We had a strong lineup of riders and had some time to discuss what we wanted to accomplish this race. The short list of goals: 1) stay together, 2) stay towards the front, 3) communicate with one another, 4) remind Jared’s hazy fogged mind when we hit 3 laps to go and 5) get the xXx train in place behind 5th wheel and let the other riders burn off during the 800M run from the last turn to set us up for the final push. Now, getting one of these goals to pan out in a Cat 4 race would be hard enough but all 5? Yeah, I was dreamin’ wasn’t I?

As usual, the course was windy and cold. Having ridden this track before, I pretty much know where the hard parts are and where you can make the field hurt. So with that said, I decided to see if I couldn’t make the race a little “fun” for all in attendance. About two laps in, I decided to push it through the chicane on the back side and make a fast run into the headwind that always slows the field into a wall of riders. To my surprise two/three riders followed me and said lets make it a go. Okay, why not? But after a few checks back, I realized that we weren’t going to get away, but we could make the others work a little. Thus, when we hit the chicane for the next three laps, it was the same story being repeated – fast group runs, pack chases, all together by the time we hit the front stretch.

All in all, the race was mostly subdued and our guys did a good job of sticking together and doing some work on the front. When we came through at 3-to-go, I remember Bill actually yelling it loud enough for me to hear from about 7 riders back. Okay, so now what? Time to get our boys lined up and prepare for the knife fight that ensues when you try to stay up front. At this point, I just remember yelling at our boys and instructing them who they needed to get behind and where they needed to go. “Dave, rider to the left, we need to shoot the gap.” “Bill, push it up to Andy.” “Hold their train, hold their train!”

I have to admit there was no subtleness in my commands. Heck, if you were in the pack you could have just followed us to the front – wonder why that didn’t happen? Anyway, going into the last lap, we were pretty well lined up with most of us sitting 7-12th wheel. Once we hit the windy section, someone started the wind up and I knew it was going to go in our favor. When we hit the last turn, everyone seemed to spread across the road and that’s when they realize just how long that run is to the line, and it was a massive headwind ALL the way.

I was far right with Dave and Andy up ahead of me. I looked to the left about 100M into the sprint to see a rider go down HARD and then see a Spidermonkey bunny hop about 3ft in the air and almost clear him (and then I saw the first rider’s bike explode into a billion pieces). I refocused and just rode in slipstreams as I pushed up towards the line. When we hit the guardrail, I launched hard and pulled left and tried to get to the line as fast as I could – all the time while it seemed as if the riders in front of me were slowing down extremely fast (it was the fact that they were unprotected from the headwind while I was). I hit the line and gave a throw and then looked up to see that Hudson had crossed before me! I was SO happy I couldn’t contain myself – we just went 1,3,5!

[b]Cat 4[/b]

In between my first and second race, I made my way over to registration to find out who was hurt. When they mentioned that a VQ rider went down only one name came to my mind so I headed over to medical. Unfortunately my suspicions were right and Doug Zallis from VQ was involved in the crash during the sprint. He was coherent in the ambulance and didn’t appear to be too busted up, but he did crack his helmet which meant that he would be taking a trip to the hospital. Here’s hoping that my bud heals up fast as we both started racing about the same time and he’s been a good guy to me ever since.

My report for this race will be short – Rhythm worked hard on the front. Rhythm blocked in obvious fashion. Field chased hard. xXx got into the mix when Owen kept going off the front. The field got mad at both teams. Our riders got tired from working. Nick and two Ryhthm riders took a last lap flier but the field was having none of it. Bill pulled me through a long line of riders going towards the final turn and when he was close enough for me I told him “Thanks Sir, I’ll take it from here” as I shot up towards Adam. Adam and I hit the last turn lined up; it sounded like riders on the left were destroying spokes and I told Adam to get the heck out of here! We pushed through the wall of wind and I made another charge, but this time towards the right where I could get some wind blockage from the guard rail. Missed catching the Rhythm riders by about a bike length – xXx Racing goes 3,4,6.

[b]Dreams Clarified?[/b]

1) A 45% increase in base miles has my form looking really good.

2) Communicating made all the difference in how we did in our races.

3) We’ve got a good 4’s squad this year and we will only get better – you guys rode awesome and “thank you” for helping me get into position to put US on the podium - TWICE!

4) Teamwork can and does work in the lower categories – “IF” you ALL put in the work to make it happen (training, fitness, practice, understanding strategy, reading a race, etc)

5) I’m not giving up bike racing, who was I kidding?

Thanks to all who helped to make this race a success and Burnham Racing for hosting a well run event. Hillsboro anyone?