Monday, March 16, 2009

If it is March, we're in Wisconsin ....

With the Spring kick-off of racing on Sunday, Chris, Stephen, Trevor, John Mahr and I rode on Saturday on the frontage roads. None of us had functioning computers, but we spent a couple hours outside remembering how to draft and turn and generally just having a good time on our bikes on a great spring day. I'd guess we turned in somewhere between 25 and 30 miles just based on time, but who knows? who really cares? So on we go to Wisconsin ....

It was a great day for racing. Only about 30 or so guys in this ABR race, though, which was weird. I don't recall seeing a USA Cycling event, but I never get those emails after having had a license for 15 years. Wheel Fast Racing had 5 guys flying the yellow & blue: perennial WFR stalwarts Chris Hammer & John Mahr, Stephen Butler back after 2 years away from the sport, WFR newcomer Derek Held, and your reporter, Kevin.

The course was an industrial park just east of the Culvers in Pleasant Prairie Wisconsin, a new venue for the Spring series that has traditionally been held at UW Parkside. The day was about 50 and sunny with a bit of a breeze. Racing my faithful Bianchi, I chose to go aero over light, and picked the Bontrager clinchers over the Campy tubulars. The course was roughly D-shaped and had a slight uphill on the S/F. My goal was simply to sit in, stay out of the wind, stay upright, and get to the finish with the field. Lofty goals, I know.

Nearly off the bat at rider attacked and we were going single file. My legs a bit fatigued from Saturday complained and I knew if this pace continued, I'd be cheering before the finish. Thankfully it bunched and I got inside and out of the breeze. Then Derek attacked early and towed us around for awhile, stretching his legs. As he came off, Chris made a jump soon after and got about 30 yds in front for a lap or two. Stephen put himself at the front of the line and tried his best to preserve Chris' move. We caught Chris and quickly it again was Stephen and Chris riding the front with Derek nearby and John and I a few spots back.

A couple of guys attacked after Stephen and Chris had taken a big turn on the front and we just couldn't chase. A few guys put in some turns, but nothing concerted. Derek, Chris and Stephen stayed at the front of the action, but the break was gone. The course was pretty safe to navigate and except for T4 being slightly - and I mean slightly - tight, the race was really safe. There was a crash out of that corner on the final lap, but I didn't even see it! Usually guys would hit it on the rise, but with the headwind and hill, it was easy to ride right up into the thick of the action. We counted the laps and maintained contact with each other. I made my stupid mistake glancing inside through a turn and drifting in just a touch, causing the rider right on my inside that I didn't realize was there, to put his bars in my ribs. Oops. We were both fine. He was cool. No harm, no foul.

With the race winding down, John attacked with 3 to go to soften things up and then Chris countered shortly after we caught John, but the result was that Chris was a little too spent to sprint and then Stephen got boxed in through the turn and lost places rather than crash. I lost track of Derek and John in the last lap. Don't know how we finished. It was fun, though. I had an average speed of 22 and some change and average HR of 168. It was a good return to racing.

Looking back we needed to organize better in the final laps. We were slightly haphazard and everybody had great thoughts on what needed to be done, we just didn't communicate to one another well enough to take advantage of the situations. We probably should have had a conference at 4 or 3 to go and lined it up for the final lap. I had enough left to take one final turn and John and Chris clearly had some punch. We just aren't used to having 5 guys in prime position on the bell lap. That will come. We discussed coordinating the attacks better for the subsequent races so we probably need to have an end-game as well. It will come. It was a blast racing as a team! We'll get better!

I won't be at #2, but should be back for #3 assuming my plane lands on schedule Sunday morning and I can get the bags packed and the bike loaded up.


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