I was feeling pretty good after taking two days off to rest and recover from the Schlitz park and Carl Zack crits, which are from my experience, the hardest crits of this series.
We staged about an hour because of some accident in the cat 4 race; they apparently seemed to have some trouble scraping the carnage off the road.
In an astounding Superweek first, I was actually able to stage near the front of the group. In fact, before they started calling the stars of Superweek, like Carlos Vargas, Carney, Tilford, etc…, I was right in the center of the front row. As the race started, I felt great, and noticed my heart rate was easily about 10 BPM higher than it has been during the last race, a sign that I was well rested. For some reason I just wanted to attack during the first ten laps, but had to resist the temptation and save myself for the 90 remaining miles of the race.
At the end of the race, Aron and Eric commented that the pace was blisteringly fast for the first two laps. The fast start caused the field to string out making for a much more difficult pace at the back than at the front. I never noticed this phenomenon as my good staging position allowed me to stay at the front for the first few laps.
The course was about 5 miles long and included two short climbs up the lake Michigan lakefront. The winds coming off the lake added an interesting dimension to the race and made the decents more difficult than the climbs most of the time. The hardest part of the race for me came at the end of the first decent, where a strong crosswind immediately blasts every rider to the left side of the road. To overcome this wind, it was usually necessary to sprint just to stay in the field, which took it’s toll on me after a while, as sprints tend to wear me out.
One time during this stretch, I accidentally let a huge gap open in front of me that I couldn’t close. I cowardly moved to the side and forced the rider behind me to close the gap. This is generally considered bad etiquette, and as a suitable revenge, the rider that passed me grabbed onto my jersey pocket and pulled himself up, which threw me backwards and made the section even more difficult. Ouch! This section was usually where the breaks launched.
At the end of the crosswind stretch was a short climb, made into a tunnel by the overlapping trees above. Usually the breaks that formed on this hill would get caught during the lakefront stretch going into the finish line. The pack can really motor there, as the crosswind is not quite as bad going the other way for some reason.
At one point, I got in one of these ill-fated breaks, and just when I thought it might stick, I looked back and noticed Aron Huerta, my own host-housing-mate, at the front of the pack chasing us down. I asked him “WTF, man?”, and he said “oh, I just got a little bored”. Heh, maybe I’ll get a little bored at the criterium Thursday if he gets in a break :P
About halfway through the race, a break finally stuck, and held a consistent 30-40 seconds on the field for the duration of the race. A few laps after this break formed, a chase group materialized and hung out in no-man’s land until the last lap, where we caught them just before the finishing sprint. I was actually feeling petty good coming into the finishing sprint and found myself near the front of the main fiend with about a kilometer to go. About 500 meters before the finish line, the road widened to accommodate an extra lane, and I was the first to take advantage of thin extra space. I sprinted for all I was worth, and came in 11th in the field sprint. With the break of 9 up the road, I scored 20th place for the race out of about 150 starters.
With 12 total points so far, I think I might have a slim chance at getting in the top 10 in the amateur rankings. I’ll post an update to this if I get any more information.
- Superweek 2004
- East Texas Hills Classic