Saturday, July 19, 2008

Watsonville Crit Race Report

Having never done this race I was excited to see what lay ahead for the race. There's a real small hill after the last corner that rises up to the finish line. It had been a couple of months since I had done a E4 race and I didn't know what to expect at the start. 24 laps were put on the board and off we went.

After a few easy laps where the field was feeling out the corners (which were pretty technical) folks were hitting the small hill harder. Surges would come up both sides and then you'd get pinched coming into the first corner if you were stuck in the middle. This happened a couple of times and for me it soon became easier to stay on the outside of the turn and take it a bit wider. Guys diving on the corner were easy to shut down because the wind would hit them first coming out of the corner and you'd regain your original position easily.

Halfway through the race I freaked some of the young guns out by locking up the rear brake (man those M5 brakes work well) as I was entering the corner. A gut reaction to the wheel in front of me falling back fast, but it woke up a few people on my tail. The pavement through some of the corners was a bit bumpy and on those turns where I was pedaling through I felt the rear bounce around a tad. Other than these incidents it was a pretty smooth race on a technical course.

With 2 laps to go I surged up the hill and made up quite a few positions by pedaling up and over the backside of the rise. I was surprised how many guys let off the gas at the peak. This gained me a few positions going into the first corner. It was easy to hold my position through the rest of the course.

With 1 lap to go I held my position and was hoping to see a few of the guys I had marked move up. Like clockwork up they came...however, their teammates weren't coming up with them. I was hoping that one of the better represented teams would wind up the pace and provide some sort of leadout. This would have suited me better, but it didn't happen.

We rounded the last corner and then burst up the hill. I was about 10th coming out of this corner. I had a ton of momentum and moved to the left to pass a few people, but then one of the Third Pillar riders in front of me moved left and shut the door in front of me. To make it worse, he was dying and falling back. I had to momentarily back off the gas and then jump back on. I was pulling 1,100+ watts, then 2 seconds later 91 watts and losing 2mph. I finally got around him and put down another 1,200 watt effort to cross the line. 7th was mine.

In retrospect I'm stoked with a top 10, but can only wonder how things might have turned out if I could have kept ramping up my sprint coming out of the final corner.

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