When all the pieces come together.
Before I start, I want to give a HUGE shout out to Nate Llerandi and Tim Srenaski for really putting me through the ringer and taking me under their wing to become a better crit rider. Nate, on more than one occasion, pushed me to the point of near nausea and Tim has spent countless hours talking to me about where to be and what to be doing over the last several weeks. He, Tim, even went so far as to take me around the Niwot course a few times to show me the “ins” and “outs” of the course.
On to the race! Warm-up was smooth and predicable as always, except for the fact that my repaired Powertap from Saris was still broken. Disappointing, but it brought about an opportunity to race without any distractions. I have a weird obsessions with the numbers while riding and tend to not do well when I can see how bad I’m suffering. I took two warm-up laps after the SM 35+ 4’s race to get a feel for the course again and settled at the front of the group with Isaac, Brandon, and Chris knowing that the first two turns were going to be decisive. Isaac said to me before the start, “I don’t feel great, so I’m just going to go off from the gun.” I chuckled thinking he was joking.
“Riders ready, GO!”. Sure enough, Isaac took off like Willie Nelson from the IRS. I slotted at the front of the group and just soft pedaled through the first two corners hoping that I could block and give him the opportunity to gain some space. The peloton was not please with me. Isaac was shortly swallowed up by an agitated field. I was very good through the first ten laps; extremely aggressive in the corners and holding my position unafraid to bump elbows every now and then. Unfortunately, after the first ten laps I started thinking and starting have problems keep position without too much of a fight, though I managed to always stay in the top fifteen.
The crit itself was fairly uneventful until around twenty-two minutes to go when the guy in front of me slid out on the back stretch causing me to take extreme evasive action and almost literally scaring the piss out of me. I ran over his back wheel (sorry whoever you are) and proceeded to take the scenic route though the lawns of downtown Niwot until I was able to get back on the course and over to the Ref to take my free lap.
This time before the bunch came around was critical for me mentally. I knew I was going to get put back in at the back and that I would have to gain around fifteen positions to even be competitive for the field sprint, so I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t stop moving until I was sitting between fourth wheel. Three laps later, I was fourth wheel as we went from time to laps.
The pace was high as the laps counted down, but was more than manageable at the front because I was able to enter the turns at full speed and pick the line that I knew would be best. With one lap to go the fireworks were really starting and I was having to dig pretty deep to stay where I was and this is the moment of my final mistake. Coming down the stretch into the last corner I hesitated as four guys jumped. As Nate would say, “I started thinking and stopped reacting.” They got a ten foot gap going into the last corner that I couldn’t close in the final sprint, landing me sixth overall.
This was by far my best result in a crit this season and it’s something that I think I can easily repeat. It wasn’t a result of strength but of aggressiveness. With that said, I still have some work to do when it comes to cornering while in a group as well as keeping the proper aggressive mindset throughout and entire crit, but this race was certainly and gigantic step in the right direction.
POST MORTUM: While I was awarded sixth at the race site, it was later discovered that the rider who placed second was actually Cat 3 and was subsequently disqualified. My placing has been updated to fifth and I honestly couldn’t be happier.