This year, more than ever I was really into my national ranking at USA Cycling. I am (was) just a category 3 racer (to my gymnastics friends it is like a level 8) but I still reached a ranking of 3rd in the country out of about 5600 racers. The great thing was that the 1st place guy was still a friend of mine in the region and we were able to race against each other often and I had a lot of fun trying to knock him off the top. We traded a lot back and forth but he is just a better racer right now, maybe next year....... :-)
I again won my team's own race with a lot of amazing help from my team in Maplewood. Then I was able to take 3rd at state after our top guy for the race broke a foot in a car packing accident the week before. Again it was thanks to the team work done throughout the race. I missed the following weekend when I was out of town trying to get a new business going with my partner. (www.thecloudboom.com) When I came back I was able to jump in a race with Mike and tried to help him but I did not get a warm up at all, jumping out of my car and right to the start line, so I was smoked with 3 laps to go and Mike placed 5th. With 2 weeks of the season to go a bunch of the team traveled out west to do a couple small races and get topped off with speed before the Gateway Cup. I helped a teammate in the first race to win and took 3rd myself and took 3 of 4 primes. Then I jumped into the P123 race, took a $100 prime, sucked wind for a big part of the race, and then got my shit together enough to start helping another teammate win. Big day for Quantum Mesa Cycles. The next day was a road race, I don't know why we did it, the race sucked, I really don' t know that I am ever going to do that race again.
The last end of the season in this area is marked by a great race called The Staenberg Group Gateway Cup. It is a pretty big deal, and if you think you are a big deal and you have not raced this race then you are wrong. I wanted a shot at winning the Omnium at the GWC and my team was down to help as long as I could help with Mike winning his season long races, day 1 and day 3. Day 1, Lafayette Square, an amazing neighborhood in St Louis, is a great start to the 4 day Labor Day weekend. It is a fairly flat, very wide, four corner crit that is raced at night. GWC is a race that you have to have nerves of steal, luck, and your head on a swivel to hope to stay out of trouble. I have yet to go a season without getting involved in a crash here. I had gone all year without one crash and I was really hoping to keep it that way. It was the same for Mike (3 years without a crash) and Keith (all season). Almost as soon as I thought of this, while we were racing, Mike and Keith went down in a pretty bad crash. I was right in front of Mike, but I knew it was him that went down. I sat in for a few laps trying to find Mike and Keith. I couldn't find them on the side or in the pits as we went by so I hoped they were just in the back of the pack. Finally after what seemed like 10 laps I saw them both in the pits. Neither was able to get back in. Keith was plowed into and hurt his back bad, and Mike sliced the tip of his finger off and was going to the hospital. I think this messed with my head a bit as I had not planned on really trying to win in the race, I was working for Mike, so I ended up doing some things that I would not have done. I tried to be in a break that I thought was going to work, they NEVER WORK at GWC, and I did work on the front of the pack, I must have been hit in the head I dunno. I ended up 13th on the night. I was pretty pissed at myself, I was screwed in the GC if I didn't pick it up. Day 2 was very similar to day 1, just in a new location. St Francis Park, another great neighborhood in the lou. I have always hated this race, for me it was just too wide and I always felt like the gas was always on. This time though, I was bored. I never hit the front and didn't do any work until I was sprinting for the win. Now I was back in the hunt, 3rd in the GC. Day 3 was The Hill, an historic race in St Louis' "little Italy". This race is Mike's white whale, he has been so close so many times and this was another year he would have to miss out. He helped me a lot with a plan but I was nervous. This was a race that I had never actually been there at the end. I had always helped and was smoked by the finish line so I didn't know how the finishes ever worked out in person. I was supposed to go with about 500-600 meters to go but when that line hit the race was FLYING and I was 12-15 riders back. I just didn't think I could make it happen. As we were coming around the final turns I was able to get on a few fast wheels and I made up a lot of wheels. In the final turn I hit a hay bale and was slowed slightly losing some ground. I wasn't going to win, but I kept the power on. With 150-200 meters to go I opened up my sprint and was able to close down on everyone but first place, missing him by a bike's length. 2nd wasn't too bad at all. Day 4 in Benton Park was my kind of race, turns, turns, and more turns. And then it happened. I crashed. All by myself, no one to blame, and thankfully no one else went with me. First lap, 6 turns (out of 10) in, I just washed out into the curb. I am stupid. The only way I could win the GC was for 1st place to not finish and I had to win. That wasn't going to happen and now I was not into it 100%. I was now ready to be finished. I road the rest of the race and crossed the line 10th. I finished in 3rd in the GWC, 3rd in the MOBAR competition (season long competition in MO) and 3rd in the USA. Hmm, I just realized that......
I am now a category 2 and I have a lot of work to do to be ready for next year. I am hoping that my experience in the last couple years will help but I am told it is going to be faster that I can imagine. Bring it on.
|The guy to the right in the red was the #1 ranked rider in the USA. He also won GWC. Good guy.|