Thanks for all the racers and race supporters!
I wasn’t supposed to race this weekend. Heck, I wasn’t even supposed to be riding my bike. The plan had been to go on a guys ski trip with some neighbors.
Then work got in the way. I had to spend all day Saturday doing final prep for a big arbitration this coming week – the final strategy session for how we are going to knock ‘em dead. After that I decided I needed to blow off some steam.
And what better way than racing the bike, right? So I decided to race the first of the Red Kite Crit series in Livermore on Sunday.
The Red Kite Crits are new season long series held out on the old Taleo crit course. The course is flat, wide open and kinda D shaped with 3 corners and a long sweeper leading into the Di al corner before the finish.
The race offers a riches of fields for a cat 3, especially a masters, and I decided to race the two on offer in the morning – the 35+ 3/4 and the 35+ 1/2/3 – then head home. My plan to Bart there was kiboshed because my first race started before he first train to Dublin/Pleasanton (good to remember for future Red Kite races).
I lined up for the chilly start of the first race with over 60 others (fields have been consistently big this year – a good thing!). My goal was to try to get some points from the race.
The wide open nowhere to hide course, a headwind over half the course, and vigilance from some of the bigger teams kept the group together. My legs got twitchy every time a prime was called but I held my horses and focused my efforts on maintaining good position in the group and figuring out the course – places to pass, bottlenecks etc.
With two to go two guys jumped off the front. As we went by the line with one to go I was sitting in the first 10 or so in a disorganized pack and Josh Ferenc came screaming by in a last ditch effort to join the two up the road (who to me looked like they were dying). I was alone without teammates and realized I needed to use others as my pilot fish and keep me at the front. So I latched onto his wheel to pull me up to the front of the group then let him go to slot into fourth wheel or so as the pack came by.
Approaching the sweeper the riders in front of me slowed but I accelerated slightly anticipating a surge. It was a small match that paid big dividends, because when the surge came – led by two Kovarus riders I was in perfect position to jump onto their wheel. I was siting pretty, in third heading into the final corner.
Coming out of the final corner as the Kovarus rider in front of me started to come around his lead-out, I jumped hard off his wheel at around the 200 mark and held my sprint to the line. As my legs thought they could not go any harder they remembered a trick they’d learned at the track. They spun faster!
Fast enough to get me to the line first!
Two bottles of wine and a medal that my kids have already lost were a nice reward for the first place finish.
Less than an hour later it had warmed up and the wind picked up and I was back at the line for the 35+ 123 race. My goal was maybe go for a prime if the legs were still there. I thought a bottle of white would be a nice addition to the bottles of red I’d won. Then I’d see how my legs felt after that and if they were still ok I would try to get a decent finish.
The pace was hot from the start, with attacks coming from the gun and going non stop, and the pack chasing them down. I sat in, working only to stay in good position, and watching the pack move. With the wind and the work being put in on the front, it did not seem that a break would stick. When the first prime was announced I moved up to the front eight or so, and watched, thinking I’d go for it if things looked right.
On the back side of the course two riders took off for the prime. At turn three two other riders jumped to chase them down. I got on their wheel. At just under 200 m I sensed the riders “leading me out” slowing so I hit it hard, came around them, and was able to pass the two up the road and take the prime. Yeah, more vino!
I settled back into the pack to recover, did enough to stay in position and not drift too far back, watched the field move, and figured out the course in this field – where to move up, which side of the pack to be on where etc. I also reminded myself not to move too far to the front too soon in this field, and get myself behind the lead out which would vaporize off the front halfway into the last lap, as I’d done before. I played around to figure out where I could best move up from 20th into the front 10 or so, and what to watch out for to avoid getting sucked back. I felt I had figured it out, and so I stayed in the front 15-20 until the last lap, and made small accelerations to jump on the wheels of guys from the bigger teams who were moving up in pairs.
Two guys from Specialized took me up to the front, where I was tenth or so in a double line of riders (bit of a cluster, yes). When the Specialized guy in front of me accelerated I followed. Then suddenly he stopped accelerating, all his energy instead going into some choice words out of his mouth as he yelled at one of the Prime Time lead out guys who had sat up and drifted into his way. I got on the gas again to go around them as they continued to berate each other, but I had lost a lot of speed, and had a long ways to go, so the best I could do was eke into the top 20.
Again, positioning in the more challenging and organized 123 field needs work. I got myself closer to where I wanted to be, but maybe should do more work in the very finale to get into better position in the last lap. And I should anticipate the tricky shenanigans like the lead out guys blocking. Well, now I know. And I am sure that when there are more BBC together at a race, and folks to work with, we’ll be positioning ourselves like champs.
All in all a great day of racing. And it was nice hanging out afterwards on a beautiful day catching up with old racer friends – many of whom seemed to have decided to use this as their first race of the season.
Next – Bariani reloaded.