Thursday, June 28, 2012

Wonder Lake Criterium

This was my first time racing in Wonder Lake and I enjoyed the course and the atmosphere very much.  The promoter did a great job, and I love the idea of  having a lake right next to the finish.  In fact I am going to the next ICA meeting and propose that all of the races should end next to a body of water.  Nothing better after a race on a hot day than jumping into water and submersing yourself in a nice cool down.  I guess a portable pool with the ICA logo on it would do.

Ok let's talk about the actual race day.  Bob and I showed up early to set up our tent and get ready for everyone else on the team who was showing up.  Bob was racing right away so that gave me time to settle in and finish setting things up.  I am much more relaxed when I can get there early and take my time getting ready and know that I can get a good warm up in.  We had brought hotdogs and sausage to cook up on the grill after the first race so we could be ready for the later races too. I also had time to step out 100meters and 250 meters to get ready if it came down to a field sprint. The day could not have started out any better.

I first competed in the Elite Masters 30+ race which ended up being a pretty fast race.  In fact the average speed of this race was faster than the P/1/2 later in the day.  I think that came from the numerous attacks during the race.  I had three teammates (Tony, Curtis and Bob) which always helps with confidence because they are great riders on their own and really shine as support riders.  I had tried to get a break to go but to no avail.  Seems like pack continued to reel every break in after a lap or so.

The atmosphere of the pack changed at the end of the race with three to go when everyone came to realized that it was going to be a sprint finish. So the pace slowed.  Almost every break that got away during the race went on the back stretch into the headwind.  And with two and half to go a lone rider went off. in the same spot.  Everyone just watched as we figured he would never survive.  But the gap increase quickly.  There were some lame attempts to start a chase but so many were worried about saving themselves for the sprint. With just under two laps to go Curtis pulls up along side of me and said Tony had flatted.  That was a let done because I know Tony would through it all out on the last lap to string it out for me.  But no sooner than that Tony pulls up along side me as the paced had slowed again and said he would still lead me out.  I looked down trying to figure out what Curtis was talking about and noticed Tony was riding on a flat front tire.  I yelled out ‘No’ very loudly.  I could only think about how unsafe that would be.  But ya got to love this guy.  He would give his right testicle to help me out in a sprint and get a good result for the Beverly Bike/Vee-Pak. 

That inspired me and I knew we need to reel this solo break in.  And with a lap and a quarter to go I  put in a bigger dig than I wanted to but figured if we did not work we would be racing for 2nd.  I pulled the pack from the top of the hill through the start finish and then pulled off before turn one. And that effort sparked the pack which is just what I needed and wanted.  Now I could get back into the draft.  And then coming up in four wheels was Curtis.  That really got me going.  I know how strong he is and the kind of effort he can put out.  I knew he could make it safe so I road back up to him in turn two and told him to string it out and give me a good interval.  And just like that it got crazy and I waited to catch a good wheel and got in line.

Curtis put the pressure on into the headwind the whole backstretch and there was another big acceleration right before turn three which I did not miss.  Now sitting fifth wheel I was just waiting for that 250-meter mark that I paced off earlier to go all out.  We still had not caught the solo break and it was going to be very close.  But I knew the downhill could help us.  As we got to my mark I was already standing going around turn four and started to pass the rider in front of me and just as I started my sprint number two and three riders from the pack pulled out and made the most perfect leadout for me.  I was able to accelerate right into their draft and by the bottom of the hill squeak through the small opening that was on the left side of the road.  And as I looked to my right I could see I had the pack beat and better yet also passing the solo break.  I powered up the hill a little more and was able to sit up and post up.  The day just got so much better.

As I have said before I owe this win to the team.  This is my second win of the year and just like at Monsters it was a team effort.  Curtis had thrown his heart into that last stretch just like in the beginning of June on the Midway.  Tony is always giving his all chasing down attacks or attacking himself so I can find time to recover.  And although Tony and Curtis were the ones in the race helping out with direct support, there is more to a team helping out an individual win a race.  All my teammates there cheering on the sidelines, calling and texting good luck, or calling after to see how things went.  There are the sponsors in Beverly Bike and Vee-Pak that make sure we have everything we need to accomplish our best performance.  This has been a much better year than I had expected for my goals were to chill out and relax.  Maybe the fresh start on the southside, great teammates and sponsors is all I needed to get me out of the rut I was in last year in the fall.  So for not expecting many results this year I am very ecstatic about my performance, but more so of our team's support. 

This was another excellent Team win for Beverly Bike/Vee-Pak Racing.


P.S.  Great job to the lone three officials taking care of the day.  Nice job, Nikki, Brenda and Loch.  Also thanks again to the promoter for a fine day of racing that ended up with me jumping in the lake after each race.  I can see it now the ICA portable pool.  I will bring the hydrant wrench and the hose to fill it.