Keep your head up!!! That is one of the basic tenets Randy is always preaching at our sprint practices. Well, turns out I still have some memory drills to complete. More on that in a minute. Friday's race was a straight forward, essentially flat rectangular criterium, short at .6 miles, with a brisk headwind on the back stretch. Scott, Alan and myself drove up Friday morning ready to conquer. To our surprise, we met up with Brian and Adrian and Alex who had come up from Indiana. Unfortunately, poor traffic planning (used to riding not driving) had us arriving with about 30 minutes to spare. We quickly registered, got our bikes set-up, got dressed and headed out for a three lap warm up on the course before being staged. Alan had a .5 lap warm up as a few bike mechanicals held him up. Not the best way to start a race but such is life.
I have to admit, I was nervous. I don't know why but I felt borderline sick. I was excited to do well and try something different - tactics that is. I had decided that if I felt good at the end, I was going to attack and try a solo. The race started out as normal; e.g. quick. To my surprise, however, Vision Quest (VQ) decided to get involved with the action. They worked in conjunction with Stone Creek (SC) to control the race. Both teams sent riders on the attack lap after lap. After taking a few early pulls and chasing down a few "potential" breakaways, we settled in for the long haul. In general the pace stayed high. With such as short course, we quickly lapped riders, some even twice.
As we headed into the final lap, VQ and SC did a great job of keep of the pace quick thereby avoiding the last lap bunch ups that normally occur because nobody wants to lead anybody else out. As we headed into the back stretch of the final lap I decided to make my move. There is a spot on the course about 600 meters out, just before turn three where the road shifts slightly to the left. During the entire race each rider would follow the wheel of the leading rider, never wanting to pull through into the headwind. It was there that I decided to go. I stayed to the right, jumped out into the wind and just let it rip. I quickly gapped by the time I hit turn three. Everyone's cheering (You've got it, Go!) kept me sprinting. Coming out of turn four I stood up once again and began my sprint. I looked under my arm and saw the gold of SC's Dan Lineoman (overall series winner). I pulled my first of two mistakes. Instead of staying along the barriers on the right thereby forcing Dan to come around my left where I could watch/jump on his wheel if necessary, I dove across the rode to the left in an effort to get him off my wheel - wasting tons of energy. As we were only about 100 meters out now, Dan went straight through onto the win. I felt/saw the second place slip from me as another rider come up behind Dan. Damn, third but I'll take right? Wrong. As I hit the line, I had my head down and did not realize where I was and did not throw my bike. Instead one other rider was able to pull up and nip (and I mean nip me) at the line! Fourth by a tire width!!!! Argghhhhhh. The rest of the crew had a tougher day with Alan getting caught behind some turn bumping along with Alex, pushing them back to a top third finish. Brian, who had such great form this Spring, had some heavy legs as did Adrian and Scott who where both hitting only there 2nd and 3rd (?)races of the season.
Man was I bummed at missing the podium, yet excited to have tried a new tactic, test/push myself and still place a financially profitable 4th out of 85 riders! I promise Randy, heads up and bike throws from now on!!! Two more days of racing!