• Race Report: Red Kite Criterium - M45+ 3/4 and M35+ 3/4

    Summary:

    Same food as usual. Two races as usual, although I changed up the mix a little bit. See below. Two solid passes, one major mistake, zero prizes.

    Food & Prep:

    The night before I'd made it a point to drink zero alcohol, and to try to hydrate properly and get a good night's sleep. This all paid off as I had NO problems with arrhythmias, not even the beginnings of a flutter, in warmup or in either race.

    Breakfast was TJ's steel cut oats, OJ, decaf. One banana while pinning my number, and most of a Power Bar (Berry Blast) while warming up.

    Race One:

    45+ 3/4 category, field of 36 riders plus 11 more 55+ racing with us. My game plan was pure crit scum: sit in, move up to the front in the last 5 laps, find Michael Boehme's wheel, sprint. This I can say I executed to perfection, although I was fighting Michael's teammate for his wheel through those last laps. You may remember from last year's reports that I've learned to follow Michael because he is an extremely consistent top-10 finisher in this field. Today he was 7th, his teammate was 6th, and I was 11th, because I got boxed in on the inside line (by Michael and his teammate, actually) in the final 50 meters and had to shut down my sprint just a little, and a few guys on the far side of the course ended up crossing ahead of me.

    Race Two:

    35+ 3/4 category, field of 45 riders. I decided to ride this category as my second race rather than the 45+ 1/2/3 which I did all last season for two reasons. First, they changed up the start times, and this year there is a 2 hour gap between the 45+ 3/4 and 45+ 1/2/3 races rather than one hour, and second, I figure I have a better chance at getting some upgrade points in the 3/4 races.

    Same game plan, although no Michael Boehme in this one. And in fact, no other EBVC riders in any of today's races, as far as I know. Both Mark Dawson and Ken Cluff had mentioned that they might show up, but alas, it was up to me to represent the orange today. There was however one friendly face in this second race: John Blasquez, who rode in orange a few years ago and now rides for Castro Valley Cyclery, was lining up with me. He figures into my major mistake. A few laps in, the prime bell was rung - all Red Kite primes are bottles of wine, but this year they are also giving out bonus points to prime winners for the overall omnium standings. As my plan was to sit in, I wasn't planning on chasing any primes and thereby burning matches, but halfway through the lap, John came by me calling my name. I jumped on his wheel as he zipped up the outside of the field between turns 1 and 2. On the back straight he continued moving up, was briefly slowed by some traffic, then found a hole and shot through to the very front with me locked to his wheel. At this point we still had about 200 meters to the 3rd and last corner, we are out of the saddle and we have a gap on the field. Approaching the last corner, he's dying and sitting down. As I come through I glance behind and see that one other rider has jumped across to us, and then there's 50 meters or so to the field. I am pretty much gassed at this point. I decide - and yes, here's my tactical mistake - to soft pedal a little wide through the corner, hoping that the guy behind me will pass me on the inside, as there's about 150 to the finish line out of the last corner. Nothing. He's not able or willing to come around. I realize I have to jump now or it's all over. But it's already over. Some big sprinter dude has rocketed out of the field and is at full steam as I stand up. So I sit back down, get passed by that guy and several others and then most of the field, and spend the next lap and a half trying to recover.

    Back to Plan A. I don't know who in particular to follow at the end, but I manage to work my way near the front in the last 4 laps, and keep fighting to stay there. I'm fearing that we'll get swarmed but the pace stays really high, even though there doesn't seem to by any particular team driving a leadout (a few teams had 3 or more riders in the race, but tactics and their execution are a little sketchy in the 3/4 fields). However, the last two turns are about as clean as you could want in this category. On the back straight I'm reminding myself that really the race is TO the final corner, and work to pass a few more guys before getting there. And sure enough, the order of the top 10 going into that final corner was as far as I could tell unchanged at the line. I was 8th.

    Final Analysis:

    Getting there, but still some work to be done. Specifically, sustained power, to get me to the last 500 meters with something left in the tank for the sprint. Suggestions on how I accomplish this? Without the use of PEDs, I mean...