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Notes from the back...(2 posts)

Notes from the back...TFerguson
Aug 18, 2003 4:58 PM
Race Report: Winfield Criterium IV 8/10/03. About 1 mile rectangle with a hill up to and around turn four.

I line up with 22 Citizens at or over the age of 40 at about 11:00am for my second goal race of the year. We're looking at 20 minutes plus two laps. Last year, 16 started and almost immediately splintered into a front "pack" of three and everybody else peddling around in ones and twos. I was one of the splintered ones and eventually ended up reforming into the "chase group" though we never saw those we were chasing. I finished 7th. My goal this year is the podium. Sitting on the line I can't help but notice that these guys don't look as rag-tag as we did last year. Several team jerseys (none last year), a lot less fat and a lot more legs. But I'm also in better shape than last year, sporting my new jersey, and ready to make good on that podium chase.

My strategy this year is to sit in at about fourth or fifth and not let those front three get away. I nudge my front wheel part way into the front row just to the right of a good-sized guy with big legs. I figure he should get me started near the front. The whistle blows and I pull up beside the big guy. Well he may be powerful but he's got to work on getting clipped in. He misses twice and moves over into me but we just bump shoulders and he's in and away we go. I guess I'm lucky with just a shoulder bump cause I also hear the ping of lightweight metal on concrete and someone yelling, "man down." I'm beginning to wonder about this race.

We're through the first and second corners OK and moseying down the back straight. Then, as we approach the hill, it's an attack and we're after him. Four of us crest the hill together and head down the chute. Around corner four and one guy is pulling strong up the front straight. This is just like the plan and I'm already figuring if there is some way to whittle this break down to the magic three. The major obstacle seems to be that, at least at this point, I am obviously the weakest of the four. But maybe if I play real smart, someone else will burn himself into that position. I'm sitting in fourth and already recovering from the hill. We bomb around corner one, the front guy pulls over and everybody just looks at him. We mosey down the back straight and by the time we approach the hill again, we're a pack of 15 or so. This isn't according to plan.

As we approach the hill, a different rider takes off. Accelerate up the hill, fly down the other side and around the corner, fall in line four or five deep with one guy pulling like mad, around corner one and we all sit up. By the end of the backstretch we're 15 strong again. The worst part is that those who don't try to stay with the front group are back on but didn't use half the energy.

Approach the hill and we do the whole thing over and over. Every lap it takes longer and longer for me to recover from accelerating up the hill but I'm thinking one of these times these three have to figure out that if they just work together it will be only them and one or two of us hanging on. I've got to stay with them.
Notes from the back...(part 2)TFerguson
Aug 18, 2003 4:59 PM
15 minutes, two or three primes later, and it's still the same except that I can no longer stay with them going up the hill and have to get back on going down and rounding the fast corner at the bottom of the hill. One thing that really helps is that I find that I can pick up about four bike lengths going around this corner. I've noticed this before and really can't figure it out since my bike handling skills are nothing to brag about. Maybe it's from doing a lot of fast riding on gravel and limestone paths on my CX where you can recover from a little slide.

Anyway, 20 minutes down - two laps to go. I am no longer recovering from one hill before I hit the next and have to drop to the 39 ring to get up it. I can no longer get back on before the front stretch and have to go to the drops and push wind. My legs hurt bad and I catch myself dropping my head to breath instead of looking where I'm going, but I'm back on at the end of the front straight every time.

The bell rings for last lap as I get back on one more time. Around two and three and up the backstretch at a snails pace. The pack builds back to at least a dozen. The front three never did take off. I barely make it up the hill standing and using my 39-21 and at least manage to accelerate going down the hill and can even pedal through the corner. Up the long front stretch to the finish I'm by myself again and just drop my head and peddle. I cross the finish line with absolutely nothing left.

I manage a cool down lap and pull over by the announcer's booth and wait for the results. 7th – not my goal, but last years winner is 8th and I gave it all I had. Next week – Downers, on the same course where the big boys race for the US Pro Criterium Championship. Stay tuned.