Monday, May 16, 2011

Tour De Grove - pt 2

The Sunday course was really cool. And it was dry at the start, so I was pretty excited to get going. Then started raining again mid race. There were wrecks three corners in a row when that happened. I was caught in the third wreck, I think that about 15 people went down in that one. I ran someone's bike over trying to get through and went down again. There were literally bodies and bikes across the whole road.

They neutralized the race, people just kept rolling into the pits from the first two wrecks too. I was in a really bad spot in the restart. I did another lap but I was at the back, and people just kept dropping out, so I had to keep leapfrogging to get back to the group, I ended up just riding along alone for a few laps till they pulled me. I'm still in one piece and I've got most of my skin, so not too bad all things considered.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Tour De Grove pt 1

Back to St. Louis for the Tour De Grove. 

Forecasts called for rain all three days. Friday night we got lucky and the rain held off, but it was windy. The Midtown Alley course was a big rectangle of wide open streets, pretty straightforward. Adam, Justin and I were representing St Johns. We all put in little digs here and there, I got in a couple of moves but nothing was getting any leash or sticking at all because of the wind so we sat in for the sprint. I was hoping to lead out Adam in the sprint, but on the last lap things slowed up, I got swarmed and Adam ended up on the front in the wind. In the sprint Adam ended up 11th and I got 5th and Justin finished in the group.

Saturday the rain came and the winds stuck around. We were minus Brian who headed home but added Brian. This course was wet and had some technical corners plus lots of rough pavement and some road obstacles. I went to the front on the first lap and didn't have too much trouble sticking there for most of the race. I heard lots of crashes behind me. There were a lot of guys in the race, 107 according to the officials at the start. So even when I did feel like I was drifting back, I'd check back and see about 40 or 50 guys behind still. Kinda crazy. Anyway, with about 10 minutes left I wasn't paying attention and took a bad line into the 180 corner before the S/F ended up turning on the painted centerline and lost my front wheel, wiping out and breaking my shifter. Dumb. But I didn't get hurt or hurt anyone else so that was good. Thankfully, SRAM Neutral Race Support was on hand to replace my shifter for tomorrow: Another rainy crit.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Joe Sheehan Memorial RR

JB and I went the the Joe Sheehan Memorial RR this year to battle the north winds. This race was moved back a couple of weeks from the last few years, where unpredictable April weather plagued the race.

Two years ago, we had rain, sleet, snow, and 20+ mph winds. I won in the Cat 3 race by attacking solo about 20 miles into the race. I attacked only because I was so cold in the group in that I could barely shift or brake. Last year I flatted trying to bridge to Walt Bleser's solo brakeaway, which ended up being the the winning move after Phil Gronniger bridged up.The thing about this race is that with the north winds if you can get a break going on the way out and have it stick through Atchison, it will probably stay away.

We showed up about an hour before the start and registration was a mess. The line was out the door. About 5 minutes before the start they pushed all races back by 15 minutes, whew. The other issue was our wheel vehicle was a small car that was jam packed with wheels. In fact, we were only able to put one set in.

So the race finally started and we had a nice sized group of 25 or so. My early plan was to get into a break after the initial attacks happened. Bill Marshall got away solo early. Then a chase group formed with some of my old teammates Craig Henwood and Cam Rex. I was interested in bridging to this group then jumping up to Bill, but the trouble was that Shadd Smith was in the group and I didn't really want to drag him up to Bill. Bob Cummings was in the group too and he's been riding really strong this year, so I was hoping we could get away together to get up to Bill.

It turns out that both Shadd and I were marked pretty heavily by the rest of the field. Shadd was putting in some little fake surges to keep the group from organizing, and I wanted to counter but if Shadd didn't immediately grab my wheel, someone else did.

We hit some new gravel sections, and Shadd really drove the pace through those. I got through behind him, but several people (including JB) ended up flatting here. It was kind of weird deep gravel with some really big chunks, but everyone seemed to ride it cleanly.

At this point Cam had jumped across to Bill and they were working well together and putting in alot of time to the group. I really wanted to get a whittled down chase group going but everyone was now looking at me or Bob to attack, so no one was really working. Coming out of Atchison, there is a medium length climb, so I punched it and Shadd was the only one that could hold the pace. Not ideal. But the gap to Bill and Cam was over 2 minutes at this point and growing, so it was the time to try to get up there. I just kept it rolling and trying to monitor the chase to see if they were closing the gap to us. In the meantime, I was closing the gap up to Bill and Cam, but not very quickly. In retrospect, I should have eased up a little out of Atchison to let some others come up with us and then spread the work out. As it was, I got to solo TT and drag Shadd in my attempt to catch up.

Anyway, I brought the gap down to about a minute with a couple of miles to go, but it was too little too late. Enough to keep them honest. So Bill won, Cam took 2nd, Shadd sprinted for 3rd, I got 4th. Lots of work for 4th, but money in the bank for CX season, where it's always that hard.