ABR State Road Race Report (Two Rivers Road Race)
End result: I won. Yay! I first heard about the race through the team email group, and I decided to race because A) I need to race more for experience and B) I figured the Juniors field wouldn’t be very competitive and I could perhaps get my first win ever.
The course is in rural Illinois and consists of a 18-ish mile course with pretty good pavement (although a bit rough/high-frequency vibration-y) and a set of railroad tracks that absolutely suck to go over. Unfortunately, the race wasn’t very well run. It was ABR and registration took 30+ minutes, the finish line was 3.5 mi away from registration and parking, making it suck for my mom since she had to walk over, and there weren’t that many people. But then again, ABR doesn’t have a lot of staff and at least they’re doing stuff, which is better than I can say. I figured the race would end up being a split; there weren’t any course features that would split the field and, although it was all cornfields and flat farmland, the wind wasn’t very strong (maybe 5 mph), so crosswinds weren’t going to be a deciding factor (maybe in a larger group, but my field started with 10 people.
I set pace during a neutral 3mi rollout to the start/finish and then I fell into about 3rd position. Then, the race sort of fell apart. The other junior, 17-year-old Isaac Drew from Bike Heaven, sort of rolled off the front at maybe 26/27mph. The first few times, the race stayed together, but after the fourth effort, I ended up in a 3-man group with Isaac, and another rider racing Cat 5s, “Steve” (quotes to mean I only know his first name). I wasn’t having any problem holding the pace, but I didn’t want to tire myself out taking pulls. I feel like when you’re in a breakaway, there’s a sub-competition to pull the least possible. So, Voeckler-level facemugging, loud complaining, and innocent guttering occurred. This race was one of the places where knowing the direction of the wind is vital. The wind was pretty much directly West->East and on the North/South stretches, I would always “pull” along the very right side of the road, guttering my companions without a draft. They didn’t realize this or didn’t care, and neither said anything nor pulled anywhere except in the middle of the road. I still think I had the best sprint, but every extra watt mattes when you’re going for the win.
Anyways, the race was kind of weird. There wasn’t really a threat from the guys chasing, who neither had the firepower to chase or the numbers (they were in small groups of 2 or 3). In the last few miles, we literally sat up on the tops and had a chat about the race.
Skip to 1k to go and I positioned myself in last position. I watch a lot of pro cycling and my sprinting style lends itself to being last or at least behind someone in the sprint. For some reason, I attacked with about 400 meters to go. I was pretty confident in my ability and thought I had the win after my initial burst. Unfortunately, though, I heard Isaac coming up on the left. At this point, I was afraid that I was going to lose. Those doubts that always come when the race gets hard started to bombard my thoughts and I was scared of losing. I tucked in on the left of Isaac, who had come around, and got ready to kick again. I had no idea where Steve was, and was a little scared of him coming around both of us with enough speed that I wouldn’t be able to close it in 200 meters. Thankfully, that didn’t happen; I got into Isaac’s slipstream and laid it down for the last 170 meters, finishing at least 4 bike lengths ahead of a charging Steve. I even got to post up, which was cool.
Woodale Criterium Juniors Race Report
Not much to say about Woodale. The course is super fast. There aren’t any tight corners, there are significant downhill stretches, and the hard sections, a tough headwind on the day for about 400 meters and a small, 3% grade, did little to limit the speeds. The field in juniors was me, another 17 year old who didn’t race a lot, Alex Timperman, a 12 year old, Carlos something, and two ten year olds. I felt pretty confident I could pull out my second W of the year.
The race ended up evolving pretty much like the Two Rivers Road Race. Essentially, Carlos, Alex, and I dropped the two 10 year olds and rotated at the front. It was pretty mellow until the last lap. I expected the final lap to go like this: I would strand Alex or Carlos on the front, or sit on in third wheel like during the race. I figured Carlos would attack up the small incline into the last corner, and then I would follow him and sprint around him at the end. It pretty much turned out like that, except Alex did the attack. I covered it immediately, coming around Carlos to do so. I expected, then, for Carlos to come around and counterattack and I kept watch for that. Alex’s attack was good, but short, so I figured Carlos could kick around it. I didn’t know how fast his sprint was, so in my anticipation of anything from him, I left a pretty significant gap to Alex with 200 meters to go, probably 2 or 3 bike lengths. When I realized I needed to get going or get second, I shifted into my last tooth and fired up the pistons, coming by with a bike throw at the end and winning by a half wheel.