Saturday, June 18, 2011

Hellbender Day 1

Went over to the first race of the Hellbender weekend. The race is over in Rolla, MO a very small rural town. There are some really nice homes there sprinkled in with some VERY run down homes. Kind of a strange little town, but very hospitable, clean, and great roads for today's race. The race was on an "L" shaped course with 6 turns on tight smooth roads. All of the turns were downhill and off camber. The off camber thing doesn't really bother me, I still have the same amount of tire on the road so what is the big deal. There is really no elevation change though, one little rise in the road on the back stretch, and the start/finish was on a false flat.
My race day started off great, today is my wedding anniversary so my wife and I went out for and early breakfast before I went racing. (I know she is awesome!) Then I got a little worried. I went to load my bike and my rear sew up was flat. I thought maybe it was just a fast air losing inner tube in the thing, I didn't really know as it was a sponsor's wheel that I was allowed to borrow. (THANKS MESA) Well turned out there was a very slow leak, actually 2 or 3 even. I pumped it up one more time, loaded it on the car and I would decided when I got to Rolla if I would race the wheel or not. When I got into town I stopped at a local bike shop to ask if they could help my put in some slime or some other product that could stop the slow leak and the guy looked at me like he had never seen a bike before. Just shows how lucky we are in the city to have very knowledgeable mechanics (like Chris Connally) and shops, (like MESA CYCLES) I left frustrated but I would live. I started to even think this could be a good thing as if it went flat I would get a free lap when I went to pick up my spare wheel.
When I got there Mark and I talked strategy for the race. He was really sore from a challenge he accepted from fellow employees at his office yesterday. So he was thinking of sitting in for the race and hitting the sprint. I was supposed to make a break in the last half of the race. Cool and Cool! I did very little warm-up as it was already very warm. I just spun around and tried to get my legs to "open" as I did not get to ride yesterday. Closer to the race we heard there would be points primes during the race and it was decided that I needed to go for those if I was going to race the omnium, which I am.
The race started with a neutral roll around the course one time, which was strange but the reason was there were cars still parked on the course. This gave everyone a chance to see where the cars where. After we rolled around one time the race was on, not that we went really fast but at least it was officially on. One lap in a rider from CBC named Jason just started to roll off the front. Not that I think he was trying to but the guys in the front just let him go. We were in a small field so the guys on the front were just looking around to see who would go get him. In lap two I notice Jason was starting to really pull away, so I went. I have been noticing that my jump is looking pretty good but when I went for Jason I thought I would be pulling the whole field with me but no one moved. I caught Jason in about half a lap and we started rotating. My first thought when I caught him was this dude is strong and this is going to stick. The second thing I though was SHIT this is going to hurt. In a couple laps another rider came up and joined us. His name is Trent and he races with Big Shark. This dude is also strong and now I was feeling really good. I was going to get a little more rest and we were going to start making time.We rotated perfectly until the first prime. I was just going to role through in whatever order we were in. I knew Jason was not in the omnium and that Trent was but I was more concerned with holding our lead than sprinting for a couple points. I knew the worst I would do was 1 point. Then Trent started to drill it up the front straight and gaped me a little bit, and I think this hurt Jason a lot too. Because of this I made Trent get in the order in front of me. He was going to get the point anyway why put the hurt out on us. A few more laps and Jason would be gone. He started missing pulls and was soft pedaling on downhill sections of the course. I started pulling through on him hard to pop him off the back. It is tough but that dude is strong and if I let him get his energy back he would beat me in the sprint so I needed to get rid of him. With Jason gone I talked Trent into giving me the next prime letting him know that he would still be in the lead even with giving me the points. He was cool with it and we just rolled through the S/F and kept hammering.
I did not know what the gap was from us to the chase for most of the race. I don't know why people to like to tell you, or don't think about it. Even bike people, don't they know what it is like to be in a break and you need to know where the chase is. We finally got a time with about 12 min left in the race. We were 35 seconds up, and on a course that only takes about 70 seconds to get around. So now I needed to start to think about how I was going to beat Trent. I don't have a lot of experience with this type of situation so it was taking up a lot of my time. I decided that I was going to attack Trent with about half a lap to go at a very technical part of the course. I noticed that Trent was in a pretty easy gear at this point of the course every lap so I thought I could catch him in the wrong gear, and maybe his legs would be tired and I could get a gap. I went with everything I had and almost blew the turn. It didn't work, Trent is a motor and he was on me. I sat up and waited for his attack, I hoped that I could jump on him like he did for me. I was wrong again. Trent went with not a supper fast attack but it was more than enough to get rid of me. I pushed as hard as I could hoping that maybe he would pop before we got to the line but with 100 meters to go he pulled away again. That was that, I was comfortably in 2nd. Then a few seconds later I hear the announcer talking about the field coming through and Mark pulls off 3rd. 708 Racing's best final ever! Great day on the bike, can't wait for tomorrow.

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