Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Gate City Cyclone Criterion Race Report M35+

When I heard how much fun I had missed at last years Gate City Cyclone Criterion in Nashua I made sure I wouldn’t miss it this year. To help prepare for it I did the Concord Criterion the weekend before. This was a real confidence booster because I was able to match all the accelerations during the race and I finished a respectable 6th in the M45+. Now I just needed to iron out some race tactics and thought I’d be able to do a little better in this race.

This was the first time I saw that the organizers, Team BOB and Goodale’s Bike shop, had a list of preme sprint lap prizes. After reviewing the list it was apparent that some guys were going to be motivated to win multiple sets of Conti tires, Giro sunglasses, floor pumps, CO2 kits, a Bontrager wheel set, valued at $300 and a bunch of miscellaneous items. Chris White (BOB), who I haven’t seem on the oval all year, took my application and told me to lookout because the dynamics of the race would be drastically different with so many sprint laps. I wasn’t sure how it would affect it but my goal was to stay up front as much as possible either way.

I lined up with teammates Greg and Lance towards the back of the group. After the race started one thing became obvious within the first few laps. The chicane half way around the course made it difficult to go thru with more than three riders wide. And if you were in the back of the group there was a major slinky effect going into and coming out of it. Because of this I tried to stay towards the front as much as possible. And by doing so it actually felt easier to be up front. The other advantage I found going thru the chicane towards the front was my Father, step mom, sister in-law, niece and nephew were in those corners and could see me coming sooner. This helped with my motivation because every time I came thru I’d hear them yelling “Go Uncle Steven!!!” And that really helped me block-out the fact that my heart rate was hovering around 184BPM which is over my threshold.

As the race progressed it became obvious that no one was going to get away from the field with all of the sprint laps unless they were in a big group. This played out to my advantage because I’ve never been successful in small breaks and typically have a stronger finish if I don’t attempt many of them. As with most races the last few laps are the fastest and a true test of ones fitness. So as we got down to 3 laps to go I did my best to stay towards the front. On the bell lap things got crazy because the whole field thought they should be up front also and we really bunched up heading toward the hill. I did my best to accelerate up the small hill before the chicane and found myself in ~6th place coming out of it. I had some contact with a rider thru the last corner and the guy on the outside skipped his rear wheel when he jumped to accelerate. I tried to stay on the wheels of the guys in front of me without standing and wait till the end to get around them. But all I could do at such a high pace is stay behind them and spin as fast as possible till crossing the line in 5th place. After the finish the judges reviewed the results and some protests were filed against the rider that I made contact with. Apparently he made contact with the other riders ahead of me and was relegated to 11th place for his actions which placed me 4th overall.

So it seems doing the Concord Crit the weekend before helped prepare me tactically. I didn’t walk away with any of the sprint lap merchandise but won $55 and had a great time. I’m happy my family was there to witness my efforts and share in some of the adrenaline. Seems they almost had as much fun watching. Almost.
Steve G.

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