Racing tales from the great Pacific Northwest

Monday, July 11, 2011

2011 Derby Day Criterium

This is another crit I was racing for the first time. I wanted to up my crit game this year and the only way to do it is, well......race them. During my first year of racing I didn't race in a single crit. Last year I mainly did them to get through stage races and never got too comfortable racing them. So far this year I've raced every one on the schedule and I'm finally starting to figure them out. I got 5th at Enumclaw, 7th at the State Championships in Bellingham and 8th at Matava. In the upcoming days before any crit you can always find a handful of people who will tell you, "Oh, (fill race name)is a crash fest!!" I used to feed on that and get nervous but in reality, every race can be a crash fest. I would need more than 10 fingers to tell you how many people I know who have crashed in a time trial! Heck, training rides can be more dangerous. Anyway, Derby Days is no exceptions and when people found out I haven't done this one I got a lot of the, "Watch corner (fill in the blank), shit loads guys go down there!!"

The first thing I saw when I arrived at the course was.......wait for it.........a massive pile up in the Cat 4 race. I was waiting in line to register and it happened a foot away from me. I heard the noise and turned around just in time to see about 10 hit the deck right before the start/finish line. I actually had to take a step back to get out of the way of a flying bike. My teammate Bert was one guys that went down. I think everyone came out of it OK considering how bad it looked. I can't say that about the bikes. So, as human nature would have it....I started getting a little nervous.

The organizers had changed it up a bit and this year there was a Elite Masters field of only Pro/1/2 racers. I decided to enter that one instead of the straight Pro/1/2. I'm not sure how great of an idea it was since when we lined up there were only 30 of us. I looked down the line and Garage an KR pretty much made up half our field. I was the only one on my team out there so I needed to pay attention to what they were doing. I figured that the sprint happy KR guys would want to keep it all together until the end and line up for either Jim or Mike and Garage would keep sending guys off the front in hopes of getting someone away. The gun went off and after a lap or so that is what happened. A couple of Garage guys jump and as soon as they were brought back, two more jumped. It definitely kept the pace high during the early laps. I did my best to either go with them or attack to bring them back. Since I was by myself I was hoping the field would let me try to gap by myself but that was never the case. After a while of doing this I finally needed to take and moved back to mid pack. Another attack was launched and when I saw the guys that hooked on I should have just bit the bullet and jumped on but if it didn't work I might not have anything left. I sat in and sure as shit these guys got the biggest gap of the night and KR and Garage were both in it. I sat in for a few laps, hoping someone else would launch an attack to bring them back. No one did so I got to the front and took off. Everyone lined up behind me and I was probably out front for two full laps. The wind was starting to blow pretty hard and I finally had to sit up. No pulled through....except Garage and KR, who helped slow us down to a crawl.

I was glad to see the Branford bike guys come up and do some good work to pick up the pace but it never lasted long as Garage really worked to disrupt any efforts being made. The break had nine guys in it and they were starting to increase their lead on each lap. I decided to try to get away again on the back side but never made it too far before getting pulled back. I was working harder in this one than any other so far this year. I was in danger of completely blowing up. They lead eventually developed to over 20 seconds and I knew we would not bring them back. Our pace slowed to a crawl and my blood pressure sped up. I was not a happy camper. I did not want to race for 10th place. I decided to go off the front again. This time I thought we might have a chance to get away. I wasn't sure if we could catch the main field but at least I wasn't just sitting in doing nothing. It lasted a lap or so but I eventually ran out of gas. Steve(Branford) jumped and Matt(Garage) got on his wheel. I had been on the front for a while and figured nothing was going to happen but they did get a gap. A couple of laps later we came though turn three just in time to see the two of them hit the deck. The were on the far right side of the road but I was heading right towards them. I was easily able to avoid them but I as I slowed a couple guys got up the road. This was starting to suck. I was feeling really good but couldn't do shit about it. A few laps later we knew that the lead group had such a lead that we might be in danger of getting lapped. We talked about picking up the pace but I don't the Garage was that interested. Sure enough as we came through the start/finish a lap later we were told that out group was going to have a field sprint in a couple of laps and would be done. Well, we came though again an got "One lap to go" and off we went. I wasn't sure what I was going to do. It didn't really matter. Coming out of turn two someone jumped and my instincts just took over and I got on his wheel. We hit turn three and Paul(KR) hit the gas and I jumped on. He and I sprinted it out for.........13th place. I finished 2nd in the lamest field sprint of the year. The worst thing was that I had to sit and watch the final ten minutes of my own race on the sidelines. Oh well, I raced strong but it is hard to compete by yourself against two strong teams that had a huge presence in our race.

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