First race weekend in a while, it seems. Okay, it's been 2 weeks, but considering the schedule ahead of me for the rest of the season, that's a LONG break. True dat.
Down to biz--
--SATURDAY'S CIRCUIT RACE--
Could the weather be any better? Of course not! UW Madison was kicking serious ass all day long on the 1Km oval-shaped circuit race in Eagle Creek Park just outside Indianapolis, IN. We scored wins in the Women's B and Men's B races (Kelly and Erik respectively), and we scored even more podium finishes in Men's C, Women's B, Men's B, AND WOMENS A's! That's right, Cassey scored the team a 2nd place finish in a breakaway in the Women's A race. That's serious nationals points there--great job Cassey!
Then came the Men's A race around 1:30 pm. At the start line it was sunny. 10 minutes later, cloudy. 10 minutes after that, raining. Then suddenly rain turned to sleet, and sleet to hail, and then somehow it became sunny and clear again for the finish. No wonder Indiana is known for it's car racing and not it's great weather.
Sparky and myself were the only A's riders, so all the "team tactics" were out the door today. It was either get in a break or sit in for the field sprint. I chose (surprise) to get in a break. Marian and IU are the strong teams in the field, so I wait for them to make a move. 10 minutes in Swain, a very strong breakaway rider from Marian, jumps hard. I somehow get his wheel without anyone else latching on. We get a big gap very quickly. I pull through--FAST--and keep the pace moving. Damn, this guy is strong. 2 laps later, we've got a great gap, but a group of SEVEN riders has bridged up to us. Ouch, not so great of chances in a nine man break. No one wants to work too much, but we get close to lapping the field.
Then the hail begins and all hell breaks loose.
I can't see 5 feet in front of me. Pelet-sized balls of ice are plummeting from the sky and piercing my skin while riding at 28 mph. I focus on holding the wheel in front of my face mostly because that's all that I CAN see. Somehow I survive and no one goes down. Unfortunately, Marian's team in the peleton decided that thieir 9-to-1 chances of winning in the break aren't good enough and everyone comes back together, right after I just pulled pretty hard at the front of the race.
Of course--that's right when the winning break goes. My legs are shot so I sit in, watching the winning move go up the road. Several guys bridge up, but I'm boxed in and the legs aren't there to pull myself up. Time to sit in for the sprint....which went pretty well. I still managed 6th in the field sprint, and 15th overall. I even scored some points on a preem lap. Sweet nationals points. Sparky finished his first race right behind me in 16th.
Sweet course! Marian puts on a great crit through their school campus. Well worth the drive to Indianapolis just for this 9 corner crit. Two 180 corners, one S-bend chicane, a downhill and uphill corner, and a 400m finishing straightaway. Schweet Jesus this course rocked.
Since the course rocked, it was tough as nails. 90 minutes of attack after attack after attack, just like any other crit, but this time the gaps were especially hard to close due to the twisty nature of the course. I missed the winning break, which left the pack on the first lap, while I was still moving up to the front after the start. Screwed again. But, the break is still in sight most of the first 40 minutes because me, Northwestern, OSU, and Perdue work together to chase the break down. We never catch it, but we did a damn good job not letting them out of our sights. All for nothing in the end, and in hindsight, since all the strong teams were in the break, there was no sense in bringing the whole pack back together. Marian was too strong blocking in the pack, so unfortunately, we couldn't bridge up to the break either.
Again, it turns out I'm sitting in waiting for the field sprint. This time I don't do too much work at the end of the race and I've still got good legs for the sprint. I latch onto some sprinter wheels and come around them for 5th in the sprint, 12th overall.
Damn hard crit overall. A's is definatly the right category for me, but I no longer can just attack left-and-right and make things work the way I want. Next weeked we'll have a much stronger team and hopefully we can get something to work. Fresh Steve, Fred, and James--we need you!