Not having raced in over a month I wasn’t sure how my form was going to be. The weekend began with a crit in Kalamazoo. The crit is not difficult, a few right turns with a riser, then a slight downhill into the finish. The weather was perfect for the race sun and a light breeze.
As I lined up at the start line for my 8 am start time. I had a realization I was the only person I knew in the field. Since joining xXx I have always lined up knowing at least one other person in the field. Not today! I lined up last row with the intent of not doing any work or making a move for at least the first 25 minutes of a 40 minute crit.
The whistle blew and the surges happened quickly after the first lap. At 8 to go the race got interesting. It started with a crash on the backside of the course that I barely avoided. There was a gap in between the concrete and curb just big enough for a wheel to slide into. A racer’s wheel slide into the gap and ended up crashing himself and two others out. I ended up going over the curb into the grass to avoid the crash. I started chasing the lead group not knowing how many other people got caught-up in the crash. At about 6 to go I noticed the field was back together from the crash. About the same time Team CMS (which had about 10 people in the race) started to organize. I was watching them organize a lead out train with 5 to go. I immediately jump on the last wheel of Team CMS. With about 3 to go CMS’s lead out train started to be over taken by surges from the field. I followed the surges to the front of the field and noticed 5 guys had gone off the front and started to chase them down. 2 to go all together again. Now I just wanted good position for the sprint. I was getting swarmed and starting to get nervous. I’d love to see a friendly wheel but I don’t know anyone. I was probably 20th coming into the final lap. By the final corner I was probably sitting 10th in the final right corner. Take the corner the guy in front of me takes a bad line and I tap my brakes. I had to start sprinting again out of the corner going up the slight riser I am not making up any time and got past by a few people since I had to tap the brakes. I finish 14th on to tomorrow.
Michigan State Road Race
Coming into this race I really wanted a win. I still haven’t ever been on the top step of the podium. Fortunately, I had a teammate in this race. Kevin Corcoran was going to race this with me. I had much of the same game plan as the day before do as little work as possible and be towards the front the last 15 miles of a 60 mile road race to cover attacks if they go off.
The course was 4 laps of a 15 mile loop of rural Michigan. It had a few rolling hills but no major climbs. My first three laps I didn’t do much work, Kevin was at the front of the field taking occasional pulls. My concern at that time was that final corner into the long straight away. There was a long gradual decent into the last left turn then the sprint. I knew I had three opportunities to test the best line was to carry the most speed into the finishing straight. At the start of the 4th lap I realized a single rider had gone off the front and had about 40 seconds on the field. I was almost the last man in the field and starting to get nervous. I knew I had to get to the front. A few miles into the last lap we approached the first hill of the lap. Again, not a major climb but some of the racers were getting tired and gaps started forming where I was able to fish my way through the field up the climb. I was able to get myself 3 wheels behind Kevin. Probably 6 miles from the finish we caught the two off the front and I some how ended up on the front. I took a short pull and let someone else pull through. At the final climb of the day I was sitting about 15th. The rider up and to the right of me was tired and hurting. He stood up to power through the climb and tapped wheel with the guy in front of him. He crashed himself out and a few other people. I dodged left and avoided the crash.
Due to the crash there was now a 17 men off the front of the field with 4 miles left. I knew I had a real fighting chance now for the win. I just had to beat 17 people now and not 45. I had to be smart! We started our decent into town and I was sitting 10th wheel. I couldn’t give up that wheel! We approached the last corner, having taken the corner three different ways I knew the line I wanted to take. I was still sitting 10th and the 3 riders in front of me take poor lines and I was able to carry more speed around them. Now sitting 7th wheel and people are starting to pop with about 500 meters to go. I was gaining on the people in front of me and I knew I had to dig deeper and freelance off the wheel in front of me. I ended my sprint throwing my bike 3rd. Now, I was wondering if Kevin crashed. He didn't crash but was slowed down by the crash.