Saturday, July 12, 2008

Coyote Creek Crit Race - M35+ 4/5

Category: M35+ 4/5
Teammates: Joseph Morales, Gary Broeder, Scott Riddle, Allen Wulzynski, Derrick Hemmingway, Raj Singh, Mike Rizzo
Length: 45 minutes
Place: 4th out of 60?

I missed participating in this race last year due to the back injury and I've been looking forward to this race ever since the Tuesday night crits started up. Given it's the same loop, we all know the pain the little hill can bring when people decide to hit it hard. We had a good number of guys racing today, but there were two teams with more riders (Alto Velo, Pen Velo). Our goal was to have half our team patrol the first half of the race and the other half to sit in and conserve for the final couple of laps.

After warming up and testing the tire pressure on turns #1 and #2, I headed back to the car to drop off a water bottle and to get some extra pins for the number. I flagged down Daryl Spano and borrowed his pins since he race just finished. I rolled through the parking lot toward the start area and noticed all the racers were bunched together and ready to roll. Just as I'm going under the locked gate I hear the "Go!" call. I noticed Raj looking my way and yelling at me to get my butt in gear. I almost missed the start, but hopped on and latched on to the back of the group. My HR was already up from the potential missed start, so going up the hill wasn't too difficult...my HR was already elevated and running hot.

Gary, Scott, Joseph and Mike were working the first part of the race toward the front. Allen, Raj, Derrick and I were sitting in trying to conserve for the last couple of laps. I found myself following Derrick for the first couple of laps. I noticed that we weren't going too fast since it was taking almost 5 minutes per lap. This works out to only 8 laps for the race. Not much when you compare it to the 20 laps we did last Tuesday.

Each time we descended through turns #1 and #2 it was very frustrating. Folks not familiar with the course were taking these corners way too slow and it caused me to wear out my brake pads (not really, but they did get a good workout). I did come through turn #2 once and decided to pedal. I clipped my inside pedal pretty good; I've done this a lot so I'm used to it, but it did spook a few riders around me. I was able to hold my line safely and not lose any positions.

Soon the lap cards came out and we had 4 to go. Joseph was doing a great job staying near the front. I told Allen that if we needed to move up we'd have to do it on the back straight and stick our noses in the wind to the left. Raj was next to Allen and we let him know that too.

Coming up the hill with 3 laps left I was on Allen's wheel. We were probably in the top 20 and coming up quickly on a rider who was fading back in the pack. Like a well executed pick'n'roll, Allen went left, I went right and we both didn't lose any momentum. I latched back on and yelled some words of encouragement up to Allen (I hope he heard me). With 2 laps to go Joe, Allen and I were in the top ten (somebody after the race said we were in the top 5) as we crested the hill. I can't remember the specifics, but I do remember sticking on my teammates wheels going down the hill. On the back straight there was a big surge on my left and I was boxed in as 25 guys went rolling by.

At this point I could have panicked, but I remembered some advice from Steven M. and Boke. Both told me to be patient. So I let the surge settle in and with about 300 yards to go before turn #3, I shot to the left and put in a short dig to get myself back in the top 10. It didn't hurt and I found myself getting back on Allen's wheel about 5 back. We hit the hill and once again Joseph and Allen were leading our charge.

On the final charge on the back straight I could feel the collective nerves of folks. We were near the front, but it was too far out to lay down a hard effort to string things out. A few moments later coming up the left was Gary; I think I saw Raj on this train too. He put in a monster effort to get to the front. I yelled up to Allen and Joseph to hop on Gary's wheel. Gary led us up to turn #3 and peeled off. His effort definitely kept some of the surging down to a minimum.

Into turn #3 it was getting hairy as I could feel a bunch of anxious people behind me. Joe pulled through and Allen got us through turn #4. Coming down the false flat Allen was first and I was third. At this point things start to get a little fuzzy. From what I remember I know Allen was dying and was about to blow. At this same time there were a few riders that were coming up on his left. I went around Allen's right side and glanced over. We were on the false flat leading to the base of the hill. A Pen Velo rider was about a bike length ahead of me in first and I was neck and neck with a Webcor guy. I was just about to get out of the saddle to sprint when I felt a guy coming up the gutter on my right. Damn!

I should have tried to take up more room when I went left, but I didn't. The gutter guy was too close for me to get out of the saddle and sprint. If I stood to sprint the sway of my bike probably would have taken him out. So it was head-down in the saddle effort to the line. I laid down some serious watts and rocketed up the hill around 30mph! My HR climbed up to the high 180's and crossed the line. I didn't know where I placed as it felt like a blur, but I knew it had to be top 5. I threw the bike out at the line for good measure; it does seem kind of funny to do this on an uphill finish, but what the heck it might have helped.

Afterwards the guys got back together to debrief and chat about how things played out. I was really please with how everybody rode and stayed safe and smart. It would have been nice to deliver a podium result for the team, but given the chaotic nature of the final laps I'm ecstatic with the results and how the team worked together.

I ended up finishing 4th and received some precious upgrade points. Now I'm only 4 points away from my upgrade and super motivated to get to the Cat 3's by the end of the season.

3 comments:

Absolute Goose said...

Congrats Todd, your back in form!

Richie Rich said...

Check out BBC guy on the Right, was he the one that came up in the gutter? He cut me off back before the sprint also. Had to settle for 13th. No upgrade points for me, maybe next time.

Tall & Manley said...

Nope, the guy I had to worry about was the Active Athlete rider on my right (far left of picture). In looking at my Powertap data, I was pulling close to 900 watts, and then when he snuck by in the gutter I had to back down to around 500 watts.

Amazing to see how many folks were behind us at the front.