Sunday, June 24, 2012

Devon Grand Prix

Saturday, June 23rd - Provincial Criterium

After a weak performance in this past Wednesday's sprint contest, I was re-evaluating my rider profile.
Nonetheless, the weekend free'd up, and Mike and I headed up to Devon, Alberta (near Edmonton) for a a couple races in our new respective categories.

With little expectations, other than as Mike put it, "don't embarrass myself," we were quite cool and relaxed as we prepared for the races. I would also be the lone Speed Theorist in cat 4 on this day.

Cat 3 - pre-race
The cat 5's went out first, and Peter and Alan rocked it, the former getting the silver medal!
It was quite hot and nary a cloud in the sky as I rolled up to the start line. This was a points race, in that were to ride 25 laps in cat 4, with every 5th lap being a "prime" lap, or intermediate sprint lap.
First one across gets 5 pts, second gets 3, third gets 2 and 4th and 5th get 1 each. For the final lap, the points and spread are doubled, so first is 10 pts, etc.

I knew of a couple guys in the group that were pretty fast, and I figured everyone would go for the very first prime, so I deliberately left that one alone. Sure enough I end up at the back for that 100m, but then everyone was gassed so I moved back up near the front.
The next two I made sure to get either 4th or 5th. Would've like more, trust me, but those top 3 guys were really quick so I was really just sprinting for the single points, hoping that might pay off in the end.
On the final lap, I made my way up nicely and ended up 5th in the final sprint. With my prime points, I ended up in 5th overall too!
Marc with silver medal and the cupcake!
Quite pleased with that effort as I was able to hang on even get some decent upgrade points in my first cat 4 race!
Oh, and I had a blast. That format made it so exciting to race in. Never any real slowing of the pace, at least not for very long. After each sprint, there would be attacks too by the guys that didn't contest the sprints. I even did one!

The cat 3's ripped it up superbly. Waldhuber, Marc Enter and Dave Holmes all executed perfect team strategies, and came just 2 points short of the gold medal for Marc (see finish video)!

Sunday, June 24th - 97km Road Race

Feeling good after the crit, but a bit nervous about a supposed "selective" hill on this long road race.
Again, the sun was out and it was warming up, so would I have enough fluids?
I brought 2 bottles of mix, 2 gels, and ate a honey stinger waffle at the start line. Ironically, I would later get stung by a wasp or something, 20k from the finish!

The cat 4 course featured an out and back, with a deep valley about 30km in.
Going out, it was all smiles and laughs in the peloton. An ERTC rider took off very early, and the other teams were content to leave him out there to cook. Being the only ST again, I sure as heck wasn't going to sacrifice myself to bring him in.

At the valley, we descended quickly and emerged in one piece, and it remained fairly calm for the remainder of the first half and back to the valley, as the cross winds were starting to pick up.

Down into the valley on the return and back up, it was yours truly leading up the steep bank to the top.
Unfortunately, the top was not really the top... it was also the beginning of a looong stretch of road that kept inclining. And that's when ERTC's teammate decided to try and bridge up as we could now see the runaway.
Honey Stinger! Pulled 
this baby out of my sternum 
Sunday evening!
That caused a spring in the peloton, and I soon found myself, head down, last bike in a group of 3, 2 bike lengths ahead of them to another group... I dug and dug not only hang on, but try to bridge to the group(s) ahead. Finally near the top I slowed again, and a selection of 10 persisted, including me!

The slowing didn't last long, as attack after attack occured. First RMCC, then PRW, then ERTC. Rinse repeat.
I rode anywhere from 1st to 4th wheel for much of it, covering many of the attacks myself, and letting a few go through, latching on to the tail of the group then moving back to the front.
After what seemed like a dozen or so of these assaults, we settled into the headwind at a leisurely sunday pace. A few castaways even reattached to us, such that we were almost completely intact for the finish.

On the final turn, we passed the 1000m sign. I'm sitting in the 2nd row, riding 3 abreast. ERTC in front of me is looking frisky... Juventus star Burtnik next to me is too.
800m and bang! Off they go... seems too far, into a headwind... PRW Dave (giant of a man) comes plowing to the left of me, bumping me a couple times (good guy though, worked his ass off in this race!). The contact sets me back just a smidgen, and I've now lost contact with the wheel in front of me. Craaap... still, it's a long ways to go. I go to the suitcase of pain or whatever, again. Hard dig and catch up to guys. Then pass them. I knew they went too soon. 100m to go and I give one more kick.

Crossed the line and don't see too many guys in front of me, so I'm quite pleased. Ended up coming in 4th, so not only do I get another good chunk of upgrade points, but I get a whopping $40 prize!

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