Tuesday, August 24, 2010

West Lake Crit: Continuing to Improve.

Tonight's race at Westlake was kinda fucked up. I generally like Westlake because I usually fell real safe there. I've really not had a big problem with erratic riders and just plain bad riding. Well, it was a little different tonight. I don't know if it was placing, I was further back in the field than normal as there were plenty of people willing to pull, or if there were more dangerous riders. Needless to say, there were numerous instances where if I could be scared on a bike I would have been.

Ok, I guess I must clarify that last statement. I've been scared on a bike numerous times. Usually for a split second, and then I realize I somehow made it through, or I'm "picking up the pieces." But I found in crit racing your best option is not to be scared. If you are scared and you are thinking about being scared, your not paying attention to whats around you, and that's when bad things happen.

So back to my story. After a lackluster season so far, I decided last week to turn that around. So I did a killer week with a ton of intensity and as much riding as I could put in. This week it seemed to work as I came into the race with my legs feeling good. So I talked to my pseudo teammate Weston and we decide that he's going to lead me out for the early money prime so I can collect a prize for my work for him last week. The lap comes up and I jump on his back wheel, and to his credit, he does a perfect leadout. He pulls me up through the field as the lap goes through and as we pull onto the front stretch we are on the sharp end of the peleton. He does an amazing pull all the way to 200 meters out where I'm fully protected and no one comes around us. In hindsight, I had perfect position and we were controlling the sprint that I could have sat on his back wheel for a tiny bit longer and I could have easily won the sprint. If I would have gone at 175 or 150 out I would have had it. So I sprint from 200 out and I'm doing well, but I start to fade and I see a wheel creeping up the inside. I have pinched in between me and the curb so I hold my line making him ride in the gutter hoping it will spook him and he'll let up for a second. To my dismay he gets around me and I come in a close second.

Now the really sketchy stuff happens, a couple laps later while taking the first turn, I'm on the outside with another rider on the inside. He's riding a Scattante, which doesn't make him dangerous, and they are good bikes, as I have one and recently traded up the other one. But add on the fact of a flapping jersey and baggies instead of bibs and I should have known this cyclist is not up to the official rules of the euro cyclist, and should be feared. Midway through the turn, for reasons unknown, said riders decides to go straight, and turns directly into me. We bump shoulder and I hear the ping, ping, ping of his pedals hitting the spokes of my front wheel. I should have gone down, but I didn't. Which I can only say is through the skills I learned through mtb and cross. I yell at him, nothing profane, but he needs to know he did something wrong and to let everyone else know to stay away and be wary. The next lap I spend looking down at my wheel fully expecting a broken spoke or at minimum it to be out of true. But to their credit my Forte Apollo's show no damage at all!

The turn in question (but on a different lap)

I have more stories about sketchiness but they all come down to two things and two things most crits riders have come across, people not holding their lines and random braking. So I'll leave it at that.

Me coming down for the final sprint

Finally, the final sprint. I'm feeling good and I've been learning a lot from my mistakes at other races, so I'm feeling confident for the sprint. The final two laps are spent trying to conserve energy, and move up positions. I'm still feeling good and in the top ten positions coming into the second half of the last lap. Jumping wheels to find the best position, while dodging riders as they drop back after they've done their pull. All is going well until about 400 meters out I get boxed in between two riders. I push my way through and try and do my best. I ended up finishing 6th or 7th and I was catching up to everyone at the end. I topped out at 35mph and easily could have placed better if I had better position. Well, there's alway next week and I'm sure I'll learn from my mistakes.
The final outcome, 3rd-6th, only a bikes off of 3rd!

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