I talk a lot about God giving and taking away. Yesterday he gave!!!
There were questions as to participation in this race when rain started pouring (it rains once a month in Arizona). However, we decided to race, and the course was dried off by the time the Cat 3 race started at 1:30.
After the manner in which the Cat 3 field kicked my butt back in January, I was a little hesitant but I knew that I had to try it again.
It was not a very large field, as you can see. There were about 20-some riders. I knew that the key to this crit was position. I need to stay away from the back of the pack. I had to fight for position, and fight I did.For the first 25 minutes, the pack would yo-yo. Pretty much due to the size of the field and the presence of two very large teams (Bicycle Ranch and Procon), we all knew that a break was going to get away. Three riders got away: Michael Dziedzic (he is 17 and races for Bicycle Ranch), Drew Albert (he is 19 and won the Avondale Crit), and two riders from Procon.
Things slowed a bit once they were out of sight, but after 35 minutes, once it was clear that the breakaway wouldn't be caught, people kept on attacking the field. For my part, I was just holding on all race.I stayed with the pack to finish 14th! I was stunned, honestly just stunned. I rolled up to the side of the race course, where my family stood congratulating me. I couldn't stop grinning. Then I realized the junior race was up next. I put down all the hammer gel I could possibly put down, while dad scissored off my cat 3 race bib. Thanks to my pit crew (Dad, Neal, Mom, Maria, Abi), I made it to the line just in time! Jake had raced the cat 5 race earlier (got 19th!) and Stephen had raced the cat 4 race (11th!), and they were both lined up and ready to rock.
The big guns for this race were Robert Chorost (far left), Nick Thorpe (fifth from the left), Sean Biever (to Nick's right), Colton Taylor (white jersey, 3rd from right), Blake Savage (far right), and of course the DNA boys!!!
From the start, I knew that I did not have the legs to win. After racing 50 minutes with Cat 3s, I had only gotten in a 5 minute cool down. I used the first five minutes of the junior race as a "warm-up". We raced really well. Stephen was fourth or fifth wheel all the time, while Jake and I were kind of on-and-off. Jake put in a great early break, with Stephen blocking for him and forcing the other guys to do major work to pull him back. After a while, I figured I might as well put in a little dig. I attacked hard into the second (and last) corner, generating 836 watts, which is almost a power record for me. I finally got that separation that I have never been able to get, but I blew myself up in the process. Nick Thorpe chased me down quite quickly.
It had become apparent to me that I just didn't have the legs to pull off the "V". I told Jake that I would go to the front and police all breakaway activity.
This involved chasing down a couple moves from Colton Taylor and Blake Savage.
I figured the less Stephen had to work to keep others from getting away, the better shot at winning he had.Stephen tried hard to get off the front, but in a 30 minute junior race, it is almost always going to come down to a sprint. This was my fear, because Nick Thorpe and all of his Strada teammates are wicked sprinters (they swept the podium at Avondale). The race was decided on a last minute surge by Stephen right before the final turn. He accelerated away to give himself just enough room to hold off the rest and WIN THE JUNIORS RACE!!!!
4. Don Henley
5. Blake Savage
7. Scott Ford
9. Me, and it was the most satisfying ninth place I have ever taken!
I'm telling you that it is tough to win a junior crit in Arizona, and Team DNA just did it!
Thus far, it had been a great day, but it wasn't over! Dad was determined to take on the Pro 1/2 race. He was fearful of droppage, but after 1/3 of the race had elapsed, he had gained major confidence. He told me later that this race was no faster than the Masters races he did at U of A.
I wonder if watching the Bissell, Essex Brass, WSC, and RGF dudes race in Michigan gave him the wrong impression of the speed of a pro 1/2 crit.
Again, Chris was working his butt off for the team.
Again, Eric Mercotte took the win (fifth or sixth win of the season). Sal (DNA's guest pro rider) got 3rd, and Chris got 4th. Dad got top 20!
We enjoyed the race. For the first time in a while, my whole family came out to see it.