The Plein Air Classic Race Report
Wow – what a great weekend of racing in Oxford, MS. The organizers did a great job of picking fun courses, having plenty to do for the family and kids, and making this an enjoyable race weekend. This was my first time to Oxford, MS. Mike Lackey and I got up early Saturday morning to drive 3 hours before the start of his Category 3/4 race. My race was a little bit later so I ended up having plenty of time for a good long warm-up that turned into a bit of a training ride itself. Here’s how my race (P/1/2/3) played out:
Saturday, Circuit Race – 2nd place
Eric Spina and his Absolute Racing team had a tent set up near the start/finish with fans blowing cooled air. It was the perfect place to warm-up on rollers with it being very hot and sunny outside. Thanks Eric!!! I warmed up for over one and a half hours and during that time drank four large bottles (20oz) of gatorade. The race began, and the largest team was Marx and Bensdorf with about 5 or 6 riders. Herring Gas had a couple riders (Frank Moak and Clark Butcher). I was by myself representing Tria Market. Eric Murphy was there by himself for Myogenesis. On the first lap, Frank Moak put in an attack and got away solo. Marx and Bensdorf responded by sending a number of riders on the attack. I pulled back each of these as none of the other riders in the field were responding except for Debbie Milne (recently crowned women’s road race champion mixing it up with the 1/2/3 men!). Finally, after a couple laps of this and as I was getting pretty tired, Eric Murphy put in a hard attack to which I had to respond — the end result was dropping everybody in the pack except for Clark. Behind us, M&B were organizing a chase, but they were tired and losing ground. Eventually we all came together to form a break of 4. There were some attacks from within the break and we got separated again with Frank and Eric up the road, and me and Clark behind. I tried and tried to close the gap but I was keeping it steady at 5-10 seconds and no closer. Some unexpected help came from Eric Spina who drilled it right as we were getting ready to lap his group. This gave me just enough rest to then put in one more hard effort to finish the bridge to Frank and Eric Murphy. Thank you again, Eric Spina!
With one to go, Clark was keeping a steady pace at the front and I would pull through at 85% but Frank and Eric were getting ready for the finishing sprint and not working. Clark put in an attack to which I expected Eric to respond, but instead Clark was motoring away. Eventually Eric attacked and I was able to hop on as Eric brought Clark back. So we were all back together with a little more than 1 mile to go. Clark stayed on the front and rode at a high pace. Eric put in the first attack with maybe 1k to go. Frank grabbed his wheel and I was in third position as Clark had finished his work for Frank and went off the back. I thought this was the perfect situation, but coming out of the last corner (there were three corners close together) as Frank and I split to pass Eric on either side, Eric stepped it up again just enough to finish maybe a bikelength in front of us with me getting second only inches in front of Frank.
- Covering attacks from Marx and Bensdorf
- Covering Eric’s cover of Clark’s attack
- The finishing sprint
Sunday Ole Miss Criterium – 2nd place
This was a fun long crit course on the Ole Miss campus. The start/finish line was near the stadium and the course climbed a longish hill with a chicane in it followed by a 90 degree left at the top, another 90 degree left, a gradual right, one more 90 degree left, a short straightaway and finally a 90 degree left to the 400 meter finishing sprint straight downhill with a tailwind. There were more riders in the field today with several of the 3s including my teammate Mike Lackey deciding to join the 1-2-3 race since it was the last race of the weekend. Several riders from the Memphis Velo team were in our race, the same Marx and Bensdorf riders were there, and Herring Gas had one additional rider in the race.
Mike covered a lot of the early moves forcing other riders to chase since I could be content to watch the other omnium threats. Mike also helped me monitor the position of the other riders in the race. And then finally, Mike pulled out a second place in the field sprint for sixth in the race. Thank you Mike! Eric Murphy instigated the attack about halfway through the race that led to the same selection of four riders (me, Clark, Frank, and Eric) in the break. We worked together well to establish the break. With three laps to go, Eric put in an attack on the hill right after I had pulled. The three of us started to work together to bring Eric back, but we couldn’t do it. With one lap to go, I attacked on the hill and only Frank could come with me. The two of us made the last turn with me in the front and 400 meters of a downhill sprint, I watched and listened and moved to the opposite side of the course from which the wind was blowing so that when Frank started his sprint he would have to come around and block the wind for me. 350 meters, 300, 250, 200 … he still hadn’t attacked and I had purposefully kept it in an easier gear for jumping quickly since I knew that I was going to have to lead it out. So at 200 meters, I attacked as hard as I could pedaling as fast as I could without shifting gears. Frank started to come around but the finish line came first, my cadence must have been 130+, and I had again beaten him by inches. So the order of finish was the same as yesterday with Eric taking the win, me second, Frank third, and Clark fourth.
- Watching everything, letting Mike cover the early moves – note the mostly Zone 3 heart rate
- Initiating an attack myself, short-lived
- Covering an attack from Eric
- This was the decisive move started by Eric
- This is where Eric attacked our break and got away
- Attacking on the last lap to separate the Herring Gas riders
- The finishing sprint
All-in-all a good strategic weekend of racing. We leave on Wednesday for our big trip out west. I’m looking forward to riding in a few different places along the way, and I will definitely be taking a few pictures to share on my blog. Until then…