Thursday, May 24, 2012

Two towers RR and Wheels on Willy Criterium

Hilly. That one little word pretty much sums this race course up. So many hills, It makes me cringe. Two laps of pain in the cat 4s. This is the most well suited race I have done so far this year, and I'm a little nervous. Nothing like the all consuming, flat out fear I used to experiance. But I do recognize that I have a good shot at this. I wait at the start, anticipating the pain I will experiance, and the pain I hope to inflict.

Right off the bat, it's a downhill. A good downhill, fast, but not too steep, and no really dangerous corners. It's a good warm up and we soon end up on the only "flat" section on the course. The pace is not slow but no one wants to do anything drastic, this is the only place on the course where no one will be in pain and everyone wants it to stay that way. I don't hear as much of the usual chitter chatter in the pack, everyone is looking at the first little hill in the distance. It's only the first hill, but some one decides to drill it anyways. I quickly react an place my self in second wheel right behind him. The hill is short and soon over. The racer backs off and sinks into the field as we roll through the last remaining flat stretch.

We approach the corner, and he attacks again. I react too slow. As we come around the corner and up a short rise I bridge the gap. I grimace, It's going to be a long day. The rollers come one after another. Short, steep, brutal affairs that punch you in the gut. Each time over the top some get back up, and some don't. After the last and worst roller, we get a long slightly uphill drag into the lap/finish hill. A rider with a yellow jersey (who later introduced himself as Andrew) goes to the front and drills it. It's a leg breaking move and lasts for a long time. He lets up just before the finish/lap hill to survey the damage.

As we hit the hill, Two strong riders go to the front and I sit behind them. This hill is way more suited to me than the others but still really hard. The leading rider attacks and after a short hesitation I follow. I've been watching him and he is one of the strongest climbers in the group. If he gets away we won't catch him. Despite my effort, I fail to catch him before the top of the climb. As soon as we get too the downhill I get to the front and drill it. I don't want him getting away without me and I certainly don't want a dropped riders catching back on. However I'm on junior gears and no matter how fast I spin I can't catch him. We reach the bottom of the hill and roll into the flats.

The climbs proceed much the same on this lap. Andrew gets on the front at the top of every hill to to keep the pace high. Soon there is only about a dozen riders left in the group. as I look around while we come into the finish, I reflect that I know many of them. I raced David in cross last year and lacrosse. Chris, a fellow junior has been at almost every race I have done this year, And I know Everett from junior development camp.

We hit the bottom of the hill, and to my surprise David goes to the front. I hang on his wheel as the last remnants of the pack is shattered. In the chaos, I make my move to soon and blow up with 200 meters to go. I finish 8 in the sprint, 9th place because that guy stayed away and won.

The next day it's a criterium and I'm doubling up. The first race is Juniors. I'm excited to race with my team! Its super high speed right off the gun. The pace yo-yo's back and forth as attacks are made and chased down. after a while Max and Pete get off the front, and Theo bridges up. Its a short race, only 25 minutes long. The finish is there before I know it, and I lead out my team mate Garret to round out the top five. IScorp got 1-2-4-5 and super preem. I finished 8th out of 20 or so.

The next race is 4/5s. I'm tired from juniors but once the race starts and my legs warm up I start to feel really good. My Dad is racing with me this time. Part way through the race two riders attack and go off the front. There Is preems being thrown out left and right, and I manage to get third in one. Then, there is a crash! I look back, Dad went down in it! He ended up ok, but dropped out of the race and did better in the Master 35+ cat 4/5s. I come around the lap next time and the announcer tells us there is going to be a preem, I decide I am going for this one, so I position myself. We come around the corner and I go for it! I win the sprint and start to back off, Then hear Max and garret screaming at me from the sidelines to "GO FOR IT! you got a gap, get that break!" I get in to gear and go.

After a few laps, I have shattered the field, only 3 riders managed to stay on my wheel. After a lap or two of me driving the pace (without help from the others) we catch the break away of two. After that we start working together well, and establish a large gap from the field. Being in a break of 6, knowing I have a good chance at winning was pretty crazy, almost surreal. With two laps to go, I held back and did no work. I positioned myself second wheel coming into the corner. The guy in front, who had been in the break away, stood up with a vicious acceleration and I was forced to start sprinting before I came around him. The other guy who had been in the two man break, Andrew, came around me as I fought to accelerate into first. I bike threw at the line for third place. My first cat 4 podium!

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