Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Adventures in CAT3

My CAT3 upgrade was approve the end of June!  This was one of my major goals for the year, so this was a big relief.  This allowed me to take some time off the bike and relax a little.  I really needed a mental break as I was pretty smoked from all the spring road races and then Lumberjack on the SS.  Getting ramped back up was a little rough, but after a solid week of training while on vacation, I was feeling like my form was coming back.  

Waterford Worlds (7/18)
After coming back from vacation, I headed over to the Waterford to test my legs in the A race.  I had attempted this once right after Lumberjack, but dropped out as the legs were dead and my heart wasn’t in it.  This time I was fresh off of a break with a solid training block and ready to go.  There was a pretty large group and the pace was high from the word go.  I think we passed the B race at about the 15-20min mark and almost passed them again just before the end of their race an hour in!!  I was able to move around and was at the front of the peloton a few times, but not really a factor in the race.  I was feeling good until just after the hour mark where they called a prime and all hell broke loose!  I don’t think there was a peloton for about 3-4 laps, just groups of guys trying to hang on to whatever wheel they could find.  It mostly came back together and I rolled in with the group for 20th.  The race was fun with an avg speed of 26.5mph… I have work to do!  Hopefully by next year I can be more than just pack fodder.

Le Champion Pave
This race was my first CAT3 race.  I didn’t race here last year and didn’t know what to expect with the rough brick paver section on the main drag in downtown Flint.  Part of the reason for working to get to CAT3 was to have teammates.  Collin, Josh and I talked and put together some basic guidelines for how we were going to race.  The race started out pretty mellow outside of me missing my pedal and having to push to get back to the front of the group.  Brian Wachlarz went solo immediately and we let him dangle.  I decided to open up my legs and chase him down on a prime lap.  I didn’t catch him in time, but pulled him back to the peloton.  Collin then got in a break, so Josh and I covered attacks and slowed the peloton.  They called a prime for the peloton and Josh hit it hard and won it with ease.   About 30min in, Brain Bangma made a hard attack and I went after him along with John Gracely.  This formed a second break of 4 after Chris Abston bridged up shortly after.  Not wanting the peloton to catch us on the last lap, Brian said he would pull the back straight if someone would pull the front.  I went to the front and pulled the first half of the lap… then suffered to hang on the back half.  I ended up finishing 3rd in our break and 8th overall.  Collin finished 4th and Josh won the field sprint for 10th.  It was a good showing for the team!

Waterford Worlds (8/1)
I was feeling pretty good and looking forward to mixing it up with the fast guys.  The start was hard, but eased up to a comfortable pace.  I really started feeling good near the hour mark, but the B race had a bad crash at the sprint and they ended up calling our race.  It’s never good to see your friends lying on the ground.  There was a lot of road rash, but everyone seemed to make it out ok except Antonio who went to the hospital with broken ribs and vertebrae.  It appears as though he is going to make a full recovery, but it was a reminder to all how dangerous this sport can be.

Waterford Worlds (8/15)
After some races in the dirt, I was back on skinny tires.  I was feeling pretty good after O2S and looking forward to another sufferfest with the fast guys.  This race was different as nobody was letting the breaks go since the purse was doubled up since the last race was called prior to the finish.  This was also the last race of the season, so the sprinters teams wanted to give their guys a chance at the season points win.  I was able to move around and never felt like I was in trouble.  I even made a short break or two, but they didn’t go anywhere.   Coming into the finish I was in a reasonable position, but I was on the outside and the peloton pushed to the left putting me into the grass.  I could have pushed back, but wasn’t looking to go down.  I chalked it up as CX practice and rode up to the peloton and rolled in to the finish.

Tour de Gaslight
This was my worst race last year as I did the USACycling race in GR the day before and was spent getting popped the last lap in the CAT4 race.  I was hoping for a better finish this year.  Josh, Collin and I lined up with the same plan as Le Champion Pave… but the rain started to come down as we were getting ready to start.  A lot of guys dropped their tire pressures, but with my extenders, it wasn’t possible at the line.  I figured how bad could it be…?!  Well… the start was ballistic and there was an immediate split!!  I was riding with the front group, but my back wheel was drifting a lot and I had to ease up on the turns.  About 15 minutes in, the back wheel went out hard, but I recovered and I had to back it down a little more.  At this point I was tail gunning and then an East Hills Velo guy hit the pavement in front of me.  I chased hard for a lap and then just when into TT mode.  I looked back and saw a group of 3, so I eased up and rode with them for a bit.  When I saw that we were going to get lapped, I went hard and then latch on to the back of the main pack for a lap and a half and rolled in for 16th.  Josh and Collin both finished in the top 10 at 6th and 10th respectively.  I am not completely disappointed with my performance as a lot of guys dropped out of the race and I stuck with it.  I learned that I need to be able to drop my tire pressure at the line, so I will be purchasing extenders that I can easily do this with.  I also had just finished a long block of training and racing, so maybe if I were fresher, I could have held on to the main pack.  This race will definitely be on the calendar next year…

The road season is pretty much over for me as I will be focusing on Crank the Shield over the next few weeks.  I will be headed to the Birmingham Bikefest and the Devos Crit on Labor Day, but they will be used more as training.   CX is around the corner and I am excited to mix it up in the B’s and possibly the Masters 35+.   

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