Sunday, September 2, 2012

Lafayette Square and Francis Park

Lafayette Square is a great way to start off the Gateway Cup weekend. The environment and atmosphere of the race is normally like a party. This weekend however was a bit different. With the remnants of Isaac sweeping though St Louis over the weekend the crowds were significantly smaller, as well as the amateur fields.

The cat 3 race did not get as bad of rain as other races before us. But with plenty of water already on the roads, and the 50+ riders we couldn't tell what was from mother nature, and what was just getting thrown up from our tires. The race was decently fast despite the rain, and some of the hard men tried to get moves to go off the front from the gun. Our own Chris Connolly was off the front with a good lead quickly. And with Chris' power, left alone he could ride away. But with the size and strength of the pack Chis was eventually pulled back into the bunch. Over the course of the race other moves tried but went nowhere.

I was able to go for one of the preems, but had to put in a double jump after I foolishly thought I had it won, only to see a rider flying up behind me. I was just barely able to hold him off, but it hurt. With about 8 or 9 laps to go, the stronger diesels started to make their moves. This pulled my team to the front in order to hold them close. We lined up and were working okay with a pace-line and Mike doing the gate keeping. I was starting to get pretty worn out as my strengths are not so much in long pulls but short bursts. Chris came up to help but over shot me and pulled ahead with another rider. I had to pull out of the line to allow the rest of my team to ride up to him which cause me to drop back in the field.

Then I had a pretty bad crash. With about 6 or 7 to go, coming into the last corner I bumped into one rider, causing my rear wheel to slide a bit. When my rear tire caught again I was pointing in a totally wrong angle and tried to correct again. My rear tire this time his some paint, I counter steered and over the bars I went. Now this is where my time as an elite gymnast really comes into it's own. Flying through the air I just remember being very high and thinking this is really going to hurt. Then I was on the ground sliding on my butt towards the barriers when another rider ran into the back of me, launching him into the barriers as well. I was much more fortunate than he was and tried to get back into the race, only to find I was past the free lap time. My race was over. As I watched the rest of the race my team was looking pretty tired. We had had to work pretty hard to bring back an attack and then with two to go a very strong rider launched off the front. This rider had thought this was the last lap, only to find he had one to go. He put his head back down and made another lap in the lead to stick the win however. It was a pretty amazing feet considering all the fire power in the field.

This is my crash taken by a rider in the field. You can see how hard it was to see, in the dark, with the rain. But that is racing.

We went into the second day of Gateway Cup at Francis Park with Mike Rickey in 3rd overall in the standings. So we decided to try and help him get another good finish and put him into the leader's jersey. The rain was still on and off all day and I was feeling a bit nervous about racing. We had a plan of trying to go for preems and then line up to help me sprint, Mike would latch onto the back and sprint for a good finish. My legs didn't feel as good as the day before. I just didn't have the snap I thought I should have had, and had the day before. I blamed that on my crash and moved on.

I went for two preems during the race. One I think I jumped out of the slip stream too soon and that cost me the money. The second I was pushed to the edge of the road and was cut off. Luckily my teammate Jason was on my wheel and made the rider who blocked me pay. We took another preem with Grant fighting a group of 4 or 5 and besting them from the front. Kid is a BOSS! In the end the preems hurt us though, as well as flats. We didn't have the guns at the end to get into position. I gave up my goal of the win to try and help Mike, but wasn't able to do much when it counted. Fear of what happened the day before and my legs kept me from the sharp end. I ended up rolling in after the pack, pretty depressed.

The Hill will be another day, and we will put it all on the line.

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