Sunday, June 8, 2008

Mill Creek Criterium, Cat 2/3, More Hot Racing!!

Another hot day. The temps were mid 90's and a bit humid. The order of the day was AC ON on the trip there and drink loads of water. I decided on my heavier, but aero wheelset and maybe a little bit because of that I decided on one bottle to save weight. I was worried a tiny bit about dehydrating, but I drank so much water before the race I was sure I was going in wet.

Mill Creek has a rolling backside and a short, but pretty steep climb right before start finish. A one mile lap that really starts to take its toll after 10 or so laps. We had 25 laps to do today. And like all week, the wind was strong again today and blowing right in your face at the top of the climb. Or at least thats how it felt.

The race started with a decent number. Somewhere between 25 to 28 Cat 2's and 3's. Included were my two team mates who had just finished 3rd and 6th in separate breaks in the Masters field. Great job to them going 25 laps then jumping right back into the Cat 2/3 race.

Usually youd think they would not be aggressive racing twice, but last year Tris and Brian made both breaks in both races!!

First off was Polo and two others on lap 2 I think. I took a dig and came up soloing the lap halfheartedly. Tris took off when I came back and his break made some progress, but it too started to fade and I moved up to top 5 to counter it. As soon as we caught them I took off at the top of the climb again and this time I drew out Thom Domonic of Spin, Nick from Freddie Fu Racing (FFR), Chris Bilowich of Snake Bite, Chris Cioccio and Cameron Jackson of RGF.

Nick, Chris and I worked hard for laps to open up a gap while the others were hanging on. I mostly pulled over the top of the climb and sometimes up to the first right hander. NIck pulled us at almost 20mph over the top of the climb and that move really put the hurting on some of the guys.

Eventually we were down to Thom, Nick, Chris and I. The lap cards were playing games with my head too. I couldn't believe how many laps were left and it seemed to take forever to hit 10 to go. In fact at one point I was sure we had 3 to go-only to come around and see the 5 to go card still up. I'll be honest and tell you I could not wait for this race to be over. It was hot, windy and I was getting really tired and I was hurting all over. I was starting to miss pulls and our pace had to be suffering, but thats also when we put the most time into the pack behind too. I was a bit nervous that I wasnt working hard enough anymore to keep us away and I'd pull as soon as I felt like I could. Seemed the same for Thom and Chris too. I did NOT want to get caught late in the race though I felt like we had a big gap. And time gaps coming from the side of the road didnt seem like we had a big gap when we actually did.

I kept looking behind, but never saw the pack, but I swear they said we only had a 20 to 30 second gap from what I was hearing. Maybe they were saying a minute and 30 seconds? Also early on a team mate to Nick was trying to bridge and I tried to keep pulling as I didnt want to go against two FFR's as they all seem to be sprinters and know how to work a break over in the closing laps. He never caught us!!

The climb wasnt too bad, it was the rest of the course that was starting to wear on my motivation. But unlike the beginning of the race when I'd be halfway up the climb before it started to hurt, it was starting to get hard on the flat before the climb. And with 3 to go I took my last swig from my bottle. But I was fine, not dehydrated just wishing for some liquid!!

Nick definitely seemed to be the strongest and Thom and I even discussed with two to go it was between Nick and Chris. But Thom feeling like he had been hanging on during the race decided to take a neutral stance and pulled us around the whole bell lap, basically taking himself out of contention for the win and saving us the games (even though we had 1:30 or so on the field). I thought that was a class move.

I got to draft and recover and even started to feel some confidence coming back. We went through the last corner and we all hit the climb hard and all beside each other as Thom peeled off, but when Nick jumped not even half way up the climb we really went flying up. And I gave it everything hoping to stay in touch and make it look good.

But Nick was so fast he quickly dropped Chris and I and Chris gapped me as we got near the top, even though I felt like I was flying myself. I started to come back to Chris over the top and put my head down, though I had that gap to close first. Maybe he saw that and he started his sprint again and when the gap went larger instead of smaller I sat down and I rolled in for 3rd!!

What a surprise to get 3rd, and even more satisfying was picking the long shot for the break and making it work in a Cat2/3 field. And on a hot and humid day, not usually my favorite racing conditions. It was at the right time and drew out the right teams and riders. We started with 6 different teams represented in the 6 riders in the break. Thats pretty good odds.

Now its two or three weeks of Time Trialing and then work on sprinting!! I am looking forward to the next few weeks, but like todays race I also cannot wait to get on with it and get it over.

Hope to see you all at the Team Lake Effect Time Trial on Thursday. Man I hope it cools down. The temperature that is, not the racing!!