Meridian/Cuba Challenge Race Report
Summary: 5th in the crit, 2nd in the road race, 2nd overall
Two days of good racing with some fast competition led to my best omnium placing ever! We started out with the downtown Meridian criterium – one hour of racing on a six corner, bumpy course. I lined up with five of my teammates for a total of six of us in the race. That is the most teammates I have ever had in a bike race!
We had a great race, starting from our pre-race meeting. We had a plan and we executed it pretty well, but unfortunately Mike Olheiser (Marx and Bensdorf) was able to get away very early in the race. Marx and Bensdorf had a bunch of riders in the race (maybe 12?), and they would bring about two or three guys to the front and then one of them would attack. This forced Herring Gas or us to chase it down or send someone to join the break attempt. There was I don’t know, maybe, 100 of these micro-breaks and I was in a bunch of them, but I was also proud of everyone on my team who was involved in at least one if not several of them. I can specifically recall when I would watch one of our guys cover a move or chase it down and I would physically feel relief in my legs knowing that I wouldn’t have to cover it, chase it down, or watch it despairingly get away without me.
Late in the race with about 10 minutes to go, a three man break with Frank Moak (Herring Gas) and Chris Alexander (Herring Gas) got off the front with Clark Butcher (Marx and Bensdorf). I was perfectly positioned and rested enough to attack and bridge solo to that move putting four of us off the front. I drove the pace but got some good rests with the two Herring Gas riders also working. Clark was sitting on since he already had Mike Olheiser up the road. We were only about 10 seconds in front of the field and losing a little bit of ground with two laps to go so I ramped up the pace for the last lap and actually gapped everyone on the switchbacks (quick right, quick left, up short hill, followed by another 90 degree right). When I saw that I had a little gap, I drilled it as hard as I could down the hill thinking I could hold it to the line, but I got caught on the finishing straight and passed by the other 3 guys with 100 meters to go making me fifth for the race. The field came in just a few seconds behind me with Darryl taking third in the field sprint. Justin placed well in the field sprint, too, placing him high up in the Cat 3 omnium.
Sunday morning was the Cuba Challenge road race. Three laps of a 21 mile course. I don’t fish, but I am sure this is what it must feel like when they fishermen talk about “the one that got away”. As anticipated, Marx and Bensdorf sent a rider off the front literally as soon as they said go. This move didn’t work, but there were several other quick attacks early in the race that were shut down. Then during a brief lull in the pace, there was a crash that took down a bunch of riders, including two riders who broke their collarbones. Ouch! After everyone came back from the crash (except the riders with the broken collarbones), the race was back on and a move got away with Brent Thompson (Marx and Bensdorf), a Bay Breakers rider, and Lennie Moon from our team. Herring-Gas chased for most of the rest of that lap. The most heated, active part of the race came midway through Lap 2 when there were a series of attacks. None of the ensuing moves though had the right composition and everything came back together for the start of Lap 3. The initial break had fallen apart by this point and another move got off the front with GW, Joseph Welsh, and one other rider. This break ended up staying away to the finish.
THE FINISH – Once the pack made it to the home stretch heading back to the finish line, Mike Olheiser was on the front cruising at about 17mph, and I was on his wheel. Travis came by and ramped the pace up to lead Mike out and string it out so people wouldn’t attack early. This was at about the 1km to go sign. Travis kept the pace at 27-28mph all the way to the 200 meter sign and still nobody had started the sprint so I launched from behind Mike and I was able to accelerate all the way up the hill to the finish topping out at just over 31mph at the finish line. That was good enough to take the sprint maybe half a bike length ahead of Pat Allison and Mike. With three riders (one cat 1 and two cat 3’s) up the road, the sprint was for fourth place in the race but with two of the three riders in the break Cat 3’s, that meant I placed 2nd in the Pro/1/2 race. Kudos to the youngster on Marx and Bensdorf (Joseph Welsh) who ended up taking the sprint over GW. The other rider in the break had gotten dropped, but we had gone so incredibly slow that he was still able to stay away, too.
Here’s my HR and power data (no power data for the road race because I forgot to change the batteries on my power meter and they gave out before the start of the race).
- The early break that Mike countered and got away from the field solo.
- I believe this was the one prime in the race.
- First of many small breaks that I was either in or bridged up to
- Second break
- Third break
- Fourth break
- Fifth break
- Sixth break
- Seventh break
- Eighth break – this is the one that I bridged up to near the end that actually stayed away
- The very early break with Mike
- Pee break after the crash
- Really easy first lap
- The quick series of attacks on the rolling hills on the backside of the course
- The most promising of the attacks that turned into a break that still didn’t end up working
- My lowest heart rate ever in a race – 103 bpm
- The sprint finish