Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Race Report: Willamette Capitol Criterium

Brison at the startline.
 This weekends race was a good one. We really lucked out with a good field and some good weather. And like I said before, the races were in the afternoon. Which made all the difference in the world.

Brison and I warmed up down at Scott's Cycle. Then headed down to the race area which was only a few blocks away. After having Hollie go to the registration area with Brison's OBRA card (I guess they were given strict instruction that they had to see the card. Evidently some mouth breathers have been trying to race without paying for either a one day license or an annual membership.) Brison and I took a few laps around the course so he could get the lay of the land. We also talked a little tactics. Crit racing is a lot different than road racing. Everything seems to happen a lot faster in a crit. So you have to be on your toes or you could miss the winning move (Since his field was small I figured a couple guys were going to breakaway and that would be that.).

Once the juniors were lining up at the start line for their race. I talked with a few of my teammates about tactics for our race. We had a very large contingent of riders. Myself, Steven, Thomas, Phil, Tim and Utaka. This was both Utaka and Tim's first race with the team so that was a very exciting thing to see.

Once the juniors got started I was shouting encouragement to Brison who appeared to be doing pretty well. A selection had been made with two kids off the front with a strong lead by lap 3 (Same to kids that took first and second last weekend.). I was told later (And take this with a grain of salt because I haven't confirmed it.) that one of those boys is a time trial champion. So that didn't bode well for Brison and the rest of the guys.

This probably lap three or four. The duo had already flown the coupe by now.

 As the two kids had flown up the road there had been selections made all the way down through the peloton. Brison had ended up in the third group on the road. And he was in a bit of a pickle. The other kid that he was with had a teammate in the second group so he wasn't going to do any work to help Brison bridge the gap. It's one of those tactical problems that you run into from time to time. And especially when you are to knackered to bridge the gap on your own. All you can really do is just maintain the course and hope they either get tired and you close it. Or the guy your with relents and helps out.

But as they got closer to the finish it became apparent that they gaps were going to be maintained where they were. And Brison would be duking it out for fifth. But then a weird thing happened.

They rang the final lap bell for the two leaders but for no one else in the race (It may have been because there were kids all over the course with varying lap numbers). So when Brison's group went by no one knew it was the last lap. In the final stretch I thought they were each track standing out there to force the other one to lead. But as it turned out they just rolled across the line. With Brison in the lead of his group. It was only afterward did they learn what happened.

 That being said I don't think that B would have had a hard time out sprinting the kid he was with. He out did him last weekend. So....

Brison trying to bridge a gap.

The boy working hard...

Our raced started much like any other crit would. With a balls to the wall for couple of laps.

There are always some of  the guys who try and break away after a few laps. But end up failing and getting brought back into the fold.  But what is a rare occurrence is to have someone in the race that's strong enough to do it by themselves. And still stay away. Pat Jackson from Buy Local cycling team (Also a friend of many member's of Cap Velo.) is one of those people. (If he doesn't move up the ranks soon I may start crying.)

Pat took a solo flyer up the road after a couple of laps. Developed about a third of a lap lead and held it. In the mean time other teams were in hot pursuit. And while after a few more laps they were eating into his lead a little. I think it was more Pat's decision to come back into the fold to rest up for another more decisive attach later.

During Pat's time in the first breakaway myself, Thomas, Steven, and Tim were just surfing towards the front of the group. Thomas and Steven looked particularly strong. I never really felt out of my comfort zone either.  It's one of those little blessings to have a teammate up the road. You're not obligied to do any work at the front (Unless you're trying to disrupt the flow, i.e. "Blocking".).

We seemed to have a pretty good group of racers this time around as well. Not having any real wiggy guys out there makes everyone relax a little more and enjoy the racing.

Once we had about six laps to go Pat took another flyer off the front and took one guy with him this time. And I had the feeling that that was the winning move. I kicked myself a little for not trying to go with him but I was to far back with in the group and on the wrong side (Asleep at the wheel I guess). So I settled in my brain that I'd contest the field sprint with the rest of the guys.

My feelings about Pat's move were turning into reality as the final laps ticked down. They were holding their lead  with out giving up any distance between them and the main group. So as a team we tried to get ourselves set up with a lead out train with Tim at the lead. Myself as the second. Then Thomas and Steven behind me. As we were rounding the second to last corner I told Tim to give everything he had left. As we neared about 400 yards to go I punched it up the inside line (Because it was on the non-windward side.). As I started to gasp for air and my legs were screaming at me to stop Steven and Thomas flew by me. I kept going with what I had left. Hoping to still have a top ten out of the deal. And we did it!

It felt really great to have some semblance of "team" in a race like this.

I found out later the Pat had gotten nipped at the line for the win. But it was still a really impressive effort. And damn close too (Like a tire's width.). But that's racing. I'm sure we will be seeing breakaways from Pat later in the season that can be measured in miles, not inches.

Thanks for reading.

Rubber side down,

Big E

Me towards the front of the main group.

The guy with the ironic hipster mustache leading our group.

Why didn't someone tell me those tights make my ass look big!?

The guy in the front with the blue kit is Patrick. I'm jealious of his power and ability. 

At the front here at the turn is Utaka. He rides a lot with the group. I believe this was his first race. It was great to see him out there.

The Ironclad guys really tried to animate the race quite a bit.

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