First race of the year.
Saturday, March 14th
I decided to visit my brother and his family this weekend in Danbury CT by way of Grant's Tomb Criterium in NYC.
Riding has been going pretty well this year. I have been training a lot with my new PowerTap. Training has been more specialized and definitely harder. I also got to travel a little this winter and do a race in China with my brother, Chad. Hopefully the video blogs from the trip are on Velonation.com. If they are not, they will be soon.
I drove to NYC on Saturday morning. Grant's Tomb Criterium was at 5 p.m. on Sat. night. I met up with Chad at Cadence, just off the Holland Tunnel. We hung out for a little while, had some coffee and lunch then headed to the race. The race was right off Columbia Universtiy. It was an o.k. course. It was very bumpy...cerca Bethesda Grand Prix. There were a few sharp corners and a long downhill sweeping left handed 180 degree turn that put you on the uphill, headwind finishing straight. I think it was about 1.5 km.
CRCA Empire had a full squad there. A few of the guys from the old Rite-Aid team are riding for them now, Stephen Kincaid and ...? (can't think of his name at the moment) Ryan Dewald came up so I was excited to have a teamate with me. Chad had about 10 guys in the race, racing for KraftGenie Gladiator. W.S.. United, Fiordifrutta, and Van Dessell were also there. There were about 70 overall.
We didn't get much of a warmup with no trainers and no place to ride so the begining of the race was a little tough for me. It took about 7 or 8 laps for me just to get to the front. The race was shortened from 75 minutes to 60 minutes. Empire did a good job and always had a man in the front or off the front. there were a lot of attacks but nothing got more than 15 or 20 seconds.
There are a few times in every race were breaks are inevitable and usually successful. This happens when the pace is red hot and everyone's toungue is on the top tube. Just when you think it can't get any harder the pace checks up. At this critical point you have two options. You can either brake with the rest of them, or Jump. It makes no sense to jump from the front becasue you have already lost some of your momentum from whoeverchecked up in front of you. Plus, you have everyone looking at you from behind. But, if your about 10 to 15 people back? This is prime launch location. You can assume some of the better riders are in the top ten and itching to follow anyone who jumps from infront. While the top 15 are slowing and waiting for that one sucker to jump from the front it is more efficient and a hell of a lot faster to jump around them, while still carrying your momentum, and quickly gain 10 to 15 seconds automatically. Another word of advice, look around and make sure you have a teamate to jump with because while I am sure yo'll get way...how long you stay away is a lot easier with a friendly face.
I got in a small break halfway through, utilizing the above paragraphs advice, except with out the teamate. The one Empire guy with us ( I found out later his name is John Minturn) was killing it. He was very strong and I think it kind of deterred a few of the others in the group. We were caught a few laps later. The same Empire guy went later on a solo breakaway for the rest of the race until he was caught with 3 to go. It was impressive. He stayed at 15 seconds for about 15 laps. I knew where I needed to be for the finale and I just didn't get there. Some times you just need to put your nose in the wind and move up a few spots. I think its a confidence thing, being confident you can move up and still be good for the sprint. I think Ryan and I could have developed a plan for the finish but it just didn't happen. I got 11th and Chad got 13th. They paid out $1000 to ten deep. Oh well. 1 down...
Sunday, March 15th
Today was a training race in Bethel, Conn. I had done the race before two years ago. Its a 1 km course with a steep uphill sprint that seems to fly right by because of the speed you are carrying on the approach. The Target Training team was there and I figured they would be the ones to watch. There was a pretty good crowd with about 65 racers.
Chad and I decided quick to relax the first third of the race and go for the $30 prime later in the race. Chad teamed up with a buddy of his, JP, and took the first prime for $20. I took another flyer halfway through the race. Got a great jump, a little too good,I was by myself for a couple laps then a Target T guy bridged and we went a few more laps before getting caught. They rang the bell for the $30 prime and I got on my brothers wheel and he took me right to the bottom of the climb in perfect position...but I f-ed it up by waiting too long, and two guys came around me for the two-up prime of $30 and $20. I was a little upset. I did swear. I decided that was my bad and The finish would be all Chads.
There is always a lot of talk about having a lead out train. Lead out trains are difficult to execute...so forget them. Unless you are on a very good Pro team there is nothing you can't accomplish at the end of the race with just two good finishers. One to go all out and set it up and the other to reoll across the line. As long as you and your teamate are right there on the front and one is willing to give up his finish for the other, odds are stacked in their favor.
I told Chad I would lead him out for the finish. We picked a place about 400 meters from the finish. I would jump and take him to the hill and then he would roll'em up and smoke'em. Target T and another had been up the road for the last 10 to 15 laps. I didn't know if we were going to catch them but I certainly was'nt going to try and chase them back. Either bridge it or forget it. My money was on Butts. We let the rest of Target T's team take us to the last 400 with their half ass leadout. They didn't know what to do with one of their guys just 5 seconds up the road. I lit the fuse with Chad on my wheel and we jumped right there at the flagpole and Chad caught one of the breakaway but came up about 1 second short for first place. It was a great day of racing, a lot of fun.