Mike and I traveled to Lawrence KS this last weekend to race the 3 stages around the University of Kansas. Day one was a 200 meter sprint down one of the main streets in Lawrence. Day two was a circuit on the UK campus going up and down some very big hills on a 3.9 mile course. Day 3 was down on the same streets as the sprint. This was an eight corner figure 8 crit almost completely flat.
Street sprints are not something that you see very often. It is a standing start all out single elimination race contested over 200 meters. Every rider was given pretty much a free race on the first round. The organizers said that it was for seeding the racers but I didn't really see it doing a very good job. I don't really know a better way and I did like the free race to figure out how I would react in real race conditions. I was given some good tips for this race that I am going to keep to myself because you would never guess the best way to do these races. And I want to have another good shot next year. Every race I did I had a great start and didn't really have any problems qualifying to later rounds. My last round I was just too jacked up. I had the whole shot and was in the lead by a bike length right away. I got too far forward though and caused my rear wheel to jump twice. That was all she wrote. When you are going close to 40 miles per hour and power not getting to the road means you are going backwards compared to everyone else. I ended up being knocked out one round from the money. I was happy to be able to get so far and beat some top sprinter but pissed about the mistake I made and that I was so close but didn't make it.
One day 2 Mike and I were going to race with a new team member for the first time. Eric Finks came to us from Bicycle Shack located out near Clinton, MO. He is a guy we have been racing against all year and we were really interested in him coming over to our team. He is super strong and really nice cool dude. The course for the day was not suited for me as my memories of it was of me getting my ass kicked. I told Eric and Mike that I would do what I could to help them. There were two climbs on each lap. One was a gradual grind that took about 3 min to climb. It was never too steep and it was the kind of climb that I liked. The second climb was shorter but much steeper lasting about 2 min. It started out steeper than the first climb and half way up it kicked up more and then again right at the top. This was an out of the saddle climb almost all the way. This was where most of the day's attacks went. To my surprise I was able to go with every one of them and not go too deep ever. Don't get me wrong it hurt, but before those attacks would have put me off the back, not passing guys to stay with them. There was never a time that I thought I was going to be dropped, that is a first, EVER, in a race so hilly. With one lap to go it was only Eric and I left in the race, and there were only maybe 15 guys. I asked Eric how he was feeling and if he wanted to stick with the plan. He said yes to I was going to lead him into and up the last climb until I exploded. Then we hit the first climb of the last lap and the guys on the front were hammering. Gaps started to form and at the top Eric was letting a big gap open. I went around him to close it and hoped he would be on my wheel. Going into the last climb I couldn't find Eric so I started to think about what I should do. Then about halfway up the last climb Eric pulled up next to me and I knew what I was going to do. I pulled in front of Eric and started to steadily pull him up to the front of the pack. I went as hard as I could for as long as I could and then Eric went for it. He ended up 9th, and turns out I need to learn to count better because if I had just stayed on the gas I would have been 10th, instead I was 11th and out of the money. I am stupid. After the race I was soooo hot I jumped into the fountain at the end of the finish straight. That was nice.
On day 3 we lined up to race a great crit. I took 7th last year being passed by 6 riders about 10 meters from the finish line. This year the guys were racing for me again and I would try to do a little better. The race was never too hard for me. I stayed on Mike's wheel almost the entire time and never used too much power. At the end of the race Eric and Mike were going to lead me out for about half a lap into the last corner. When the time came Eric was off the front, I think he forgot he was racing for a team and was going for a flyer. I don't blame him it will take time to learn to race how we race. Eric did end up getting into the lead out but he used a little too much energy and when he started he couldn't hold it long enough or fast enough. When Mike took over he was sitting 5th wheel and me 6th. Coming into 2 corners to go we were slowed up but a rider that didn't know how to turn and we lost ground on the first and second riders. Mike kept the speed up though and I took off going through the last turn. I passed Mike and the slow rider but was passed on the left by another rider. I finished 5th and was very happy. We took away a good amount of cash from the weekend and met a lot of new great people.
I have this next weekend off and then I race the Wildwood TT and the Babbler State Park Circuit. I am also going to the Mesa Cycles TdF party on the 16th. If you are in the STL it is the place to be!