At the start of the season, I laid out my racing schedule and placed Proctor as my last Cat 5 race, it being my 10th mass start. I ended up racing Cobb Park last week so it was actually my 11th race, but stuck to the plan upgrade-wise.
To most people's surprise, the 5's field didn't fill up - my guess that's because of the high price of gas and the the lack of a road race... makes it hard to justify the drive all the way to Peoria, especially for a ~25 minute race. Looking at the field of 35ish riders, it was clear that the guys from Wild Card Cycling (Champaign, IL) had the largest presence with 7 - the four of us would have to either work with them or try to recruit others if we wanted to work against them. I've been in several races with these guys and we've always gotten along well and "played nice" so we decided to continue that trend.
The pace started out pretty fast on the hourglass course, ~25 on the straights and ~20 on the corners, the smaller and more technical top half of the course clearly slowing the pack down - this clearly would be the place to make moves.
Had I only known I was riding in front of Unlucky Rob.
I Crashed on turn 5, about 1/3 way through the third lap (rear flatted on a 20+mph corner), didn't take anyone else out with me even though I was ~8th wheel. While sliding across the pavement (whee) I somehow kept my hands on the bars and managed to make myself as small as possible so I wouldn't be run over. As soon as the majority of the peleton passed me, I knew I had to get up. I ran the 4 blocks back to the wheel pit as fast as I could, got a 404 from SRAM's neutral support and was back in it. It took me a lap to get back on, but I contested the next prime, unknowingly leading the winner out... He could have the innertubes and socks, I was happy to be back in contention. The pack had spit out several riders at this point, no doubt my crash had created a gap attributing to that. The remainder of the race was fast and fairly smooth, with only one instance of an unattached rider breaking his line and cutting inside, almost pushing a Wild Card rider into one of the 6" curbs on turn 9 with a lap to go. At the bell, the group accelerated and lined out before regrouping on the backstretch.. I was 12th wheel on the slight uphill leading into the last corner and powered down the long sprint, picking up a bunch of spots on the sprint to finish 6th.
As usual, positioning going into the sprint is everything, but all things considered I had a great race and I'm happy with my top 10, bleeding.