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NJ State Crit Race report... (Long)(4 posts)

NJ State Crit Race report... (Long)biknben
Aug 25, 2003 7:21 AM
I did the Cat. 4 State Crit race in Jersey yesterday. This long time unattached rider recently found himself a team. I've been slowly meeting club members as I've raced the last 6 weeks or so. There were only three of us at this race. I meet up with Bob who I regard as the team capt. type. I've raced with him a few times now and he introduces me to the other guys, etc.

We start chatting and he mentions the third team mate, BIG John, who is present. I've not met or seen him yet but Bob tells me that he is our best hope for a placing and we should try to work him to the front late in the race for a possible leadout. I'm thinking to myself, "Yeah, that's a plan...It's every team's plan...but it's a plan!" I also know that once a race starts, most plans get tossed. Being new to the team, wanting to make a good impression, I play along and offer to help.

Then, off in the distance, I notice BIG John riding up towards us. Let's just say that BIG is a conservative description. I'd say he is roughly 6 foot and I'm told he's packing 240 lbs. I would call him John the Ox rather than just Big John. I'm quickly convinced that John is our best chance for a placing. We quickly go through this "plan" with John. Bob wants to get the three of us together on the last lap and he'll start the leadout. I'll follow up with whatever I've got to give John a good leadout.

The race is a typical Cat. 4 race from my experience. No solid break attempts. Lone riders get a few seconds off the front and fade quickly. There are a few painful accelerations but they are usually followed by a lull which allow recovery. I stay very close to the front. The constant "rubber-banding" towards the back has killed me in the past. I take just one long pull at the front to keep a solo guy in check. I notice Bob from time to time near me but mostly around mid-pack. I never see Big John until one lap to go.

The Bell lap surprised me. I had lost track of the number of laps left. As I hear the bell, I look over my shoulder and notice John just a few lengths behind me with a clear path. I had seen Bob on the previous lap but lost track of him. I figured, if nothing else, I'd pull John around the last lap by myself.

On the back stretch, I know John is still on my wheel but I hear all kinds of nonsense going on behind me. Guys are doing the typical "hold your line" and the "Woh, Woh, Woh" cat.4 chant. I'm a little pinned against the curb but I'm relaxed.

Within the last 1000m there is a small rise, then a gradual descent through the final turn towards the finish. The finish is on a false flat. The Road bends slightly away from me at the top of the climb. I was banking on things opening up for me on the rise. It paid off for me and a lane opened up. I was able to move nearly all the way up as we entered the last turn. I went through the last turn next to someone else in 3rd or 4th position.

Now, unknown to me, Big John got restless while I was up against the curb. He bailed and moved off my line in hopes of something better. When I gunned it up the rise and into the last turn, he was not behind me. In the last turn, he was just within the top twenty.
After the last turn my tongue is on my top tube and I'm expecting John to come around. I just kept going with whatever I had left. A few riders went by and John came past me in only the last 50 feet. He finished 12th and I took 13th.

Afterwards we got together and apparently John blew past Bob before catching up to me. He quickly realized he may have faired better had he been more patient. He was really bummed to hear about my position in the last turn. Had he been there, he could have had a potential win or podium spot. I could tell that Bob was a little annoyed. John had two guys wasting themselves for him but didn't gain from it.

In the end, I am more than happy with my individual placing. I
Cont... NJ State Crit Race report... (Long)biknben
Aug 25, 2003 8:22 AM
In the end, I am more than happy with my individual placing. I rode smart, didn't do more work than necessary, stayed out of trouble. I got to see a rider cross the finish line sliding on his back. Those are much more enjoyable when they don't involve me. :-) The team tactics didn't fair too well but I enjoy the comradery after riding unattached for 2+ years. It adds a new dimension to the race.

BTW: I got to talk to "Critlover" for a few minutes after her 4th place finish.
good result...CritLover
Aug 25, 2003 7:14 PM
now only if there was some cash, you and I may have had some gas money.

And it sounds like you may be the guy they need to move up for the last lap. Sounds like you got better sprint instincts than John. Third place with one turn to go is perfect positioning.

I didn't notice your jersey as I was leaving, who are you riding for?
Skylands Cycling Club...biknben
Aug 26, 2003 5:29 AM
The club is out of Sussex Cnty. they are the club which runs the Tuesday night series.

My MTB club fizzled out last year so a couple of us jumped ship. My friend (and team mate with previous team) knows the shop owner at Skylands so we went there. They were pretty excited to have us because they are looking to expands their MTB presence. They have a bunch of 4s looking to cat up to 3 (just like me) so I'm excited too.

Yeah...we kinda botched the finish. I burned most of my matches getting that position for the last turn. I was just riding it out after that. Hopefully, my teammate learned a lesson. "Never leave your wing man!" We had just met so I guess he didn't trust me enough to ignore his own instincts.

Are you doing one of the races this weekend? I'm planning to do the Morristown race on Sunday. I might show for the Basking Ridge race on Monday.