Monday, August 29, 2011

Sedalia/Otterville Weekend

I’m a pretty fortunate guy.  You see, this past weekend was my wedding anniversary and my wife let me go to the races.  Yeah, I’m a lucky guy.

Sedalia Crit [8/40]:

We stayed at the Hotel Bothwell.  Recommended.  Know going in that it was built during a different era, namely the era when people weren't so big and used to such big spaces.  As Cameron pointed out: "it's euro."  In the one bedroom we fit myself, my wife, two toddlers, and my road bike, so it wasn't that small.  After watching the 3/4 race (with teammate Eric holding off BJ by a whisker for third!) we tucked the kids to bed and I ran back out to warm-up for the 1/2/3 race.  Perhaps the best warm-up was the trip up/down 6 flights of stairs?

This was a night-crit in a small MO town.  A good mix of StL and KC racers turned up, I’d guess around 40 guys and Carrie Cash Wooten (kudos to her!).  The course was lit just so-so as turns 1 and 3 were pretty dark.  Ok, turn 4 was dark too.  Pavement was pretty good, a few bumps here and there but nothing awful.

A huge number of primes were offered, it felt like every other lap $20 was waved in front of us.  A $300 crowd prime was put up.  It was pretty cool of them to offer so much cash at this small race.

I followed wheels and practiced cornering in the dark.  The field was pretty hungry and the constant primes meant nobody was staying off for long.  The legs felt good, especially in the second half of the race.  I noticed I could stay seated coming out of turns 2 and 4 when others were standing – always a good sign!

Unfortunately, the race organizers/officials did not have a clock/lap counter at the venue.  For once I wasn’t so hypoxic that I could actually look for/read it and it wasn’t there!  That was pretty bush-league, but Aaro kept us informed of the last 5 laps over the PA.  

Coming into the last couple laps I was in the top 20 or so as swarms were constantly altering the pack.  On the last lap I was in the top 15 and moved up going into corner 3.  I got a little nervous when I saw 4 guys to the inside of me as we hit the turn faster than any lap prior.  I tapped my brakes and instantly lost a lot of speed and valuable positioning.  A loser in all white kit then chopped the last turn, clipped a pedal, slid out, and took Cameron Rex (Gateway Harley/Mesa) into the curb (and breaking his s-works tarmac).  I was the last rider through, but the whole ordeal distracted me enough that I let a gap open – not ideal with 250 meters to go!  I jumped hard and passed some folks taking 8th place.  

It was a fun crit and sort of a slower dress rehearsal for the Lafayette Square crit next weekend.  I’m pleased with another top 10 in a 1/2 race though it highlights many lessons I need to learn about crit racing.  Thanks to my teammates for cheering me on!

Otterville RR [DNF/14]:

After getting to bed around midnight due to the crit, I was up early for the 9am RR in Otterville!  Otterville does not have a gas station or any restaurants, so any food or water you needed you had to get in Sedalia.  I had enough to start the race (3.5 bottles) but not enough to finish (3 laps/72 miles/2 feeds), so I had my lovely wife run back into town to fetch a pail of water.  Yeah, I’m a lucky guy.  The other thing Otterville had a dearth of was restrooms.  Big blunder by the organizers here: 2 restrooms on site.  Sorry guys, but before I spend (an anticipated) 3 hours on the bike, I’m going to have to hit the potty – and so does everybody else!  The line was 15 minutes long which, given the early start sent a lot of people to the trees – not what you want if you wish to hold the race again!!  Toilet talk aside, the road race course was a good one.  The roads were pretty empty and featured rolling hills and changing winds which reminded me of the Hermann RR course, though more open.

The crit field was 40 strong while the RR field the next morning turned out 14.  Jensen and Stolte (Trek/Tradewind), 2 Mesas, Justin + Jim + Anthony (Dogfish), a Monster drink, Lawrence (CBC), Kent (Colavita), and a few others made for a small but fast bunch.

Justin attacked on the second hill and built up a sizable gap.  Jensen then organized the chase urging us to help out.  I foolishly obliged.  I would pull a turn or two, then think I was being conservative by dropping back and resting a while at the back.  However, all I was doing was softening myself up for the decisive move later in the race.

On lap two we started to reel Justin in and I knew the punches would start flying.  Everyone else knew too, so nobody would pull except for Kent and the Tradewinds.  Brian saw this coming and sat up while Kent kept riding and cruised off the front to join Justin.  Over the top of the next climb Jensen attacked hard taking Jim with him forming the break du jour.  Brian had successfully isolated the best TT’r in the race (Justin), tired him (getting everyone else to chase him for a lap), isolated the next best chasers (Kent + Jim) to weaken any possible chase group, and then dispatched us on a climb.  By leaving Bill in the chase group, he was guaranteed a rested counter should it all come back together.  Well played sirs.  

After we topped out I took a few breaths and then tried to bridge, I got away cleanly but blew up on the next hill before making contact.  The chase group caught me and I slotted in to recover.  After a spell of resting I started to take turns at the front again.  We were catching them and I wanted to help our group stay in the race.  Unfortunately, we hit another steep ramp after I pulled off the front and that was all she wrote – popped off the back.

While cruising into town I could make out another rider in front of me, I “caught” him as we came into the feed zone hill and both of us decided to call it a day.  I started rehydrating and cleaned up while getting to spectate the finish (actually I was just waiting for the wheel truck!).  Jensen won, with Jim and Kent filling out the podium.

I was quite impressed with the way Jensen and Stolte played the field.  Why did we let the strongest guy in the race talk us into working for him?  Next time I don’t plan on playing the pawn so easily.  Kent also impressed as he was working the entire race showing strong fitness, earning that podium.

This race will serve as fodder for the trainer sessions this winter as I struggle with forging ahead in my fitness.  How fast do I need to be?  How fit must I be?  This is a new benchmark.  The entire weekend reminded me of the words of Wayne Simon here, under Cat 2.  

Next up: Friday Night at Gateway and returning to AR for work…

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