This is the last race report from my three race weekend.
The Tour de Husker Southwest High Criterium was a race I wasn't even sure I was going to do on Sunday morning. I was the only rider on my team that would be there and I wasn't sure how my legs would hold up after slogging in the mud for a couple of hours on Saturday at the Bone Bender and then the Team Time Trial on Sunday morning but as I got home and started to think about it I new I couldn't pass up the chance to race in my home town for $15. Even if it was on my road bike.
I had a bunch of stuff going on on Sunday and made it to the race about 20 minutes before start time. I quickly went up and got checked in paid my money and was off to warm up. The course was about a .6 mile loop around the high school. Pretty flat with one small climb. The downhill section after the small climb was right into the 20-25mph wind so you never really had that chance to recover. When I was warming up the legs felt a bit stiff but loosened up well and I felt ok.
At the start line I was ready to go. When the gun went off I shot right to the front of the pack and lead out the group for the first lap. I looked back behind me and noticed the train on my wheel. A rider came up around me and attacked and I went with him for a bit but then eased off figuring that I would be able to reel him back in later. That was mistake number one.
I continued on leading the group for the next couple of laps. My problem was that I didn't want to let the leader get to far ahead but no one was willing to work with me either so I just kept trucking on. Eventually I said screw 'em and sat straight up and that is when another rider went on an attack. I wasn't ready for that and I stuck with him and then let go hoping to catch back up since he was on his own. Mistake number 2. Then another rider went and again I didn't hold on. I think I was worried about getting to tired in the end. Mistake number 3.
So I kept on leading the group trying to keep the 2nd and 3rd place rider within range. I had 2 other guys with me and I kept trying to get them to take a couple of pulls at the front. One of the riders did come up and take a pull but he slowed way down and I went back up. The other rider who I will refer to "wheel suck guy" would not take a pull. He just sat in my draft the whole race. If I sat up to try to force him up he wouldn't go, when I attacked he stayed with me. The problem was that I was still trying to bridge the gap between me and the 2nd and 3rd place riders but they were working together and wheel suck guy I guess just wanted to hang with me.
I did show my inexperience with crit racing in the fact that I heard and saw them ring the prime bell but when we got back around I forgot and wheel suck guy and the other guy I was leading sprinted around me to take it. Of course wheel suck guy quickly just sat back in my draft to hang out again. He even tried to attack once and once he noticed I was with him slowed back down to get back in my draft. This was driving me nuts and I was getting a bit tired and figured I wasn't go to do all the work and catch the riders in front for this guy to get the benefits of it. Mistake number 4.
When they rang the bell for the final lap the other rider had fallen off and it was just me and wheel suck guy. Bring on mistake number 5. I should have just put the hammer down and tried to leave him from the let go but I didn't and as we went around the last turn he caught me slipstream right and shot in front of me for 4th place leaving me in 5th. I was furious. What I wanted to do was run him down and tell him he was welcome and give him the finger but since our team had already got a language "language warning" that morning at the team time trial I decided to behave myself. I'm kind of kicking myself for not saying anything now. It was nice to have the other rider who followed me most of the race to come up and say sorry he couldn't take any pulls and that it was ridiculous how that guy just sat and wouldn't do any work. My wife said it was very noticeable from the sidelines and that a few people said something. But in the end I didn't do anything to stop this guy from being lame and allowed it to happen.
All in all I felt that I had a good race and had the legs to do better but held myself back. I did learn a lot though from this race. Next time I'm not letting anyone go and if I get someone who won't take any pulls I'm going to just attack again and again and make them suffer to hang on to my wheel. It is one of those things that is hard to admit since I'm a hard core mountain biker but I did enjoy the race and now that I've done 4 races on my road bike I think that crit racing might be something I could be good at. It's kind of similar to xc mountain biking in the fact that bike handling and hammering over a short distance for a shorter amount of time is key. I think I will see a lot more of these in my future.
One of my favorite things about this race was that my wife was able to come. She doesn't get to come to many of my races and it was nice to hear here cheering me on. She was able to get some pictures of the race. Here they are:
leading the train
me of course leading wheel suck guy up the course
The hammer kicked ass in a racing situation just like I thought. Unfortunately I found out that I got to give it back soon. I'm going to be heart broken but I got my Felt coming together soon so I can't wait. But this bike is second to none.