Race Review: Armeaux Crit & Jesuit Round-Up
It's been just over a week since the race and a little longer since my last post. So cheers to posting with regularity! The Armeaux Crit and Jesuit Round-Up kicked off a stint of racing here in the Dallas area. A welcome change from the early season trips to Austin that signal the start of the road season. Not to take away from Austin, it's just nice to sleep in my own bed for a bit.
With spring having arrived just prior to the race weekend, we were poised to see both sides of the weather coin. Saturday brought a strong chance of rain and a day where made for laying on the couch all day. The RBM team was suited up and 6-strong for the men's crit. With that many guys, we were all pumped for some aggressive racing.
Things got going from the gun on a familiar course in Fair Park (where the Thursday Night World Championship series is hosted by the King Racing Group). About half way through the race the skies opened up along with more attacks. My teammate Rob got up the road in a well-represented group and the rest of the RBM team got to work covering moves at the front. As I chased one rider up the road, I looked back to see that I had a gap on the group. "No better time to try and go for it," I thought and I put my head down to bridge to the leaders.
I was fighting hard to get on terms with the break before hitting the harder stretches of the course when Bret Crosby (Chicken N Waffles), who is a monster, came up and helped me close the gap. A few more laps of hard work and our advantage was starting to solidify off the front. Now all I had to do was survive. Seems like an easy task, but I found myself following Bret in our pace line, holding +350W just to on his wheel in the draft. Ouch! If Rob or I were going to steal a podium spot from this we'd have to be crafty.
With 6 laps to go, Bret disappeared from our group with a flat and suddenly it was 2-on-1-on-1. With 3 to go, Mat Stephens (Elevate Cycling) attacked leaving the 3 of us to look at each other. With Mat up the road, Rob and I took turns attacking into each corner in an attempt to shed the last rider. Heading into the bell lap, I attacked the last corner and stamped on the pedals coming out of it. It was a roll of the dice but the gap opened quick and I was able to ride away with 2nd place, leaving Rob to rail the last corner and take the last podium spot! Great job for RBM!
After a cold, rainy day on Saturday, the sunshine came out to join us. I had a good showing on this rolling course last year and I was hopeful that our team could repeat the feat in 2015. As soon as the flag dropped the group got going with my teammate Chris heading up the road. I contend he was trying to motor pace off the lead vehicle but he'll likely say otherwise. A few guys gave chase but some of the bigger hitters where hesitant to jump.
I think racing can often be a "Right Place, Right Time" (or the opposite) ordeal. At mile 4-ish it was no different, as I carried some speed through the turn and followed a few wheels up the road. That ended up being the move of the day but I had some doubt in myself about being up there. The group was well-represented so the teams behind would provide some coverage for the break to build an advantage. But for the good luck that I had there was also some bad.
As we hit the lumpier part of the loop, my right shifter started acting up, becoming extremely difficult to shift. Fortunately for me, the guys in the break waited for me and let me sit in for a bit. Throughout the next 6 laps I had to spray water on the shifter to clear out some of the grit from Saturday's rain. I was able to manage but it was a bit frustrating. Lesson learned: Clean your damn bike after each race!
With 2 laps to go, the tempo started to ratchet up. With attacks going, I had a moment of difficulty and got caught out of the split, forced to chase. Unfortunately, my legs weren't about to cooperate and I was quickly left to watch the group of 5 go up the road. I kept plugging away, counting down the hills, the miles, the turns, anything I could to keep myself going hard in pursuit. With just 1k to I could finally ease a bit and pedaled across the line in 6th place.
Personally, I was happy with my performance and as a team we rode really well! With the bulk of the season coming up, we're starting to come together as a team.
Rubber-side down y'all!