Cat3 Crit Report
The race of the weekend was obviously the State Championship RR on Saturday. Riders traveled from all over Tennessee and beyond for Saturday’s chance at a Jersey. But if you looked at the race schedule very closely you would see that they also sneaked a criterium in there on Sunday. The boys and myself didn’t let it go unnoticed! We showed up and got the work done on Saturday. We even battled a little off the bike drama (read the previous post). As soon as Saturday was in the books however, I couldn’t help but begin scheming for tomorrow’s battle around the corners.
Our race wasn’t until the afternoon so we had a pretty relaxed morning. We drove to the course, hunted down some shade and got the “spring break” van turned into race base camp. We watched some earlier races, we warmed up a little bit, but I’ll admit I was just plain excited to race. After having some bad luck with my nissan pick-up on thursday and not being sure I’d make it to the race, I was happy to have the opportunity to pedal around in circles while breathing through my ears and tasting a little blood. Racing with Chris and Alan has been nothing but a wonderful experience this year. I find myself having an awfully hard time wiping the smile off my face.
We lined up, official said GO, and we started throwing punches! Well, not literally of course. I like watching MMA fights, but I’m more of the lover not the fighter. But anyway, attack after attack by all three of the Hub City boys, slowly we chipped away at the strength of the field. There was more than one breakaway that I thought for sure was going to stick, but each time we were reeled back in. The backside of the course had a little incline and then pitched up to the left until topping off at the downtown square before wrapping back around to the slight downhill start/finish area. This backside uphill was where we found most of our breakaway success. About half-way through the race the whole field was feeling the effects of all the accelerations. The group had just pulled back an attack that Chris had thrown, and I saw my opportunity to counter. I launched myself up the hill with all I had, peaked through my armpit and saw I had a gap, so I kept digging.
I AM racer Will Montgomery was the only other rider to make the jump with me. We had about 15-20 minutes of racing left, so I knew we would have to work together to stay away. Thankfully Will was more than willing and we began rotating and sharing the effort. Alan and Chris did an excellent job back in the pack covering any chances at bring us back. We clicked away the remaining laps and I was finally able to admit to myself that we had succeeded.
Now it was time to try to win this thing. Will is not a rider to be taken lightly, so I did no such thing. I knew he has a wicked sprint, so my tactic was to jump a little early and keep him off through the final corners. On the last lap I rode hard up the incline then punched it up and over the steep pitch to the square. The stars aligned perfectly and I was able to come out of the last corner with all kinds of speed. I crossed the line, threw my hands in the air and celebrated my first ever CAT 3 victory. All I can say is it’s been a long time coming, a long time! To top off an already incredible weekend Strong Man Rothrock took the group sprint for 3rd, putting two men of the Hub City-Lift Center team on the podium.
In conclusion I guess we have a target on our backs now going into the State Championship Crit put on by MOAB in Murfreesboro….But I’m ok with that.
….._ \<,_ by Richie Slagle
The Cat 4 RR was the same 55.8 mile course as the Masters and Cat 3. We had a typical field of 36 made up of 14-40(ish) year olds. The start was incredibly slow with no attacks but the climbs came early and the pace ramped up quickly once we started uphill. Octavio and I stayed in touch through the first 2 but I slipped off the back at the top of the third. Octavio managed to stay with the main field until the top of the 4th climb onto the plateau. I hooked up with a guy and worked hard to try to catch. We managed to hook up with 4 others but they were all shelled pretty quickly. Octavio was about 2 minutes up the road with a group of 5 working to regain contact with the main field. Unfortunately we all regrouped about 3 miles from the finish after the crash in the Masters race shut everyone down. We sat for about 20 minutes and the race was restarted with Matt Robbins getting the 25 second start that he had when the race was stopped, then chase field #1, then everyone else. The muscles were tight and it was not very coordinated at this point. Matt Robbins maintained his gap and got the win.
The crit looked like it had a nasty turn with that horseshoe bend but it turned out to be a nice downtown course with a couple of uphill sections and a downhill finish. Octavio and I were in a field of 24. The pace started pretty fast with a few attempted attacks but nothing that came close to staying away. I put in one attack to bridge to a flyer but saw the field going with me so Octavio and I settled into front 5-8 places and kept pretty good position most of the race. I knew Robbins was the man to watch and I tried to sit close to him but as the race wore on I felt myself slipping back through the uphill sections and catching back on the downhill. With 10 laps to go the pace stayed fast but everyone stayed calm until the 2 to go. I had slipped back a few places and never got it back as the field went with 1.5 laps to go. Octavio made the field sprint for 9th and I finished 12th. Again…Matt Robbins got the win.
by Randy McKinnon
Cat 3 State Championship Road Race
Another excellent weekend of Tennessee racing! We loaded up Octavio’s van like a bunch of college kids on spring break and made the trek Friday night to Cookeville Regional Medical Center Road Race and Criterium, which was also the Tennessee State Championship Road Race.
The field for the Road Race was excellent, with representation from all of the major teams across the state, and of course the TBRA points leaders. Richie, Chris, and Myself had a game plan which involved me being super-domestique while Richie stayed a bit closer to Chris, with the hope of getting Chris off the front in the last 10K in a small group which he could counter attack prior to the finish. I put on the Mavic 80mm CXR Tubulars that I demo “borrowed” from Hub City Bicycle Co, thinking that if I could hang on the climbs, I could do some damage on flat sections and downhills. The course was rolling, with essentially 6 climbs, which were around a mile long. Check it out on the TBRA link. The wheels worked great, allowing me to descend faster than most guys and bridge back up gaps and bring in breakaways a little easier. The rotational weight wasn’t bad, and they felt lighter and more nimble than my American Classic 50mm race wheels that I’ve spent a season and half on, despite the extra 30mm of buttery aero carbon. My Garmin had a max speed of over 55 mph on one of the descents!
The race started out modestly, with a few flyers and attacks, but the power of the pack was to keep things together. The Marx-Bensdorf Cycling Team had a full compliment, and put several riders up the road, with big digs from Greg Halliday, Brian Thames, and Cody McCoy. In addition, the IAMRacing team rode full force with Will Montgomery covering multiple moves and riding aggressively. Volkswagen was also there, tearing it up.
Pushing into the last climb, Chris Winter attacked and shattered the field, creating a breakaway of around 8 riders, including the major competitors. I couldn’t match the counters and settled in and climbed at my own pace. I crested the climb, attacked the chase pack, and put the Mavics to work, and averaged 26.8 mph for the last 8 miles, solo, but still not enough to catch the leaders. Luckily Richie Slagle was with the leaders and able to help Chris on the homestretch.
Unfortunately, there was a severe crash in the Masters Race which finished prior to the cat3, group, with several moderate to severely injured riders requiring helicopter evacuation. The chaos that ensued with ambulances, officials, multiple parked cars blocking the road during the last 300m of the race, created an awkward situation for all involved. Luckily the injured riders where able to be evacuated and flown safely to the hospital. Unfortunately, several of the most competitive riders were penalized for traveling through the crash zone.
Regardless, after reviewing the positioning of the riders, Chris took 1rst place, bringing home the Championship Jersey! Richie Slagle who had survived the breakaway took 3rd place (unexpectedly) after realizing that the rider in front of him was licensed in Colorado! The team rode great as a unit, and I can’t think of rider more deserving than Chris of the championship. He rode aggressively, executed, and the team supported very well. A great result for West Tennessee Cyclists, showing that our end of the state is a hotbed of talented riders!
by Alan Rothrock
The Masters 40/50/60 race started with the largest field of the State RR at 71 riders. We were all a bit concerned because only 4 miles into the race comes three back to back climbs with technical descents. The race started pretty contained which worked well in the initial climbs as I was able to keep close to the front and in easy contact. The slow initial pace in the hills kept the pack large which would come back to haunt us later. The fourth climb started at about 15 miles and continued a slight increase until the main part of the climb kicks up to a category 4 climb. This was our first opportunity to really drop some of our pack. Once past this climb we were on a long stretch of rolling twisty roads. At this point, Tim, Joe and myself were still in the remaining 45 or so riders. At mile 43 another category 4 climb would take us up to the beginning of the run into the finish. This climb almost go me but I was able to fight back to the front pack in fairly short order and we were really motoring at this point. Most of the way down the road to Wartrace Park we averaged a good 27 mph rarely going below 25 mph and hitting 33 mph often. At Wartrace Park we turned onto the final 5 miles and three final small but stinging climbs before a flat finish. As we came into the final kilometer the speed picked up significantly building to an all-out sprint at 500 meters. I was way too far back but felt good and was coming on strong. I usually like long sprints like this because I can stay close and turn on the afterburners when everyone leading out the sprint blows up at 150 meters out. This was working well for me as I only needed to beat Ron Wilson to win the 60+ jersey and I had him in my sights on my right. Next to him was a Volkswagen rider who was boxed in and moved suddenly to his left and clipped Mike Birchet another strong rider. Both hit the deck hard with the Volkswagen rider breaking his hip and narrowly missing taking out Ron. Mike slid left across the pack right into my path and causing everyone to my left to head for the ditches. I locked up my wheels started to skid sideways trying to avoid Mike’s bike. I had no choice but to hit the gas again and hope I cleared him and the bike. All I could think about was I was going down and this was going to hurt! I plowed right across the top tube breaking it in the process and continued over the rest of the bike and onto the pavement without somehow going down. At this point the bulk of the riders behind went around to my right and were headed to the finish. I rolled across in 25th position but with a silver medal in the 60+ category for the day. Unfortunately, things did not go as well for those on my left as several went down with one rider hitting face first into the pavement and having to be airlifted from the scene. We later heard he was conscious and doing okay.
The Criterium is one of my favorite courses although I don’t typically do all that well here. The course starts into a horse-shoe turn up around the town square and down the hill to the finish. Again, we had a large pack and we set a very hard pace. I felt good and was able to stay up without much difficulty although I was constantly having to work my way to the front only to spend the next few laps drifting to the back. About half way through the event, Bill Robison went on the attack and opened a 10 second gap. A Marx Bensdorf rider blew a tire on the horse-shoe turn causing the race to be neutralized while an ambulance once again carted off a Master’s rider. Once we were back underway, Robison continued the attack with no one very interested in chasing. Joe Lambert and myself were able to hang with the pace and finished in the sprint. I ended up second 60+ after another frustrating attempt to beat Ron Wilson in the sprint and 15th overall. All in all it was a fun weekend of racing and while I lost some opportunities for higher placing, I was glad to escape in one piece from all the carnage.
by Tom Gee
I lined up at the start with 70 riders in my category. I picked my way through and got as far to the front as I could so I would have a good position to hold when I started. I ended up in the front 15-20 riders before the first climb. Up the first climb, I stayed in contact no problem. Going down hill in a group though was a challenge but no issues. The second climb came up and I fell back a bit near the top but no worries, caught back up on the downhill portion. The third climb came up and the group started pushing the pace a bit harder. Again fell back and had to chase back. Caught the main group and got settled in. That’s where I spoke with you. Nothing really to report here until the climb to the plateau. I got down a gel and stayed near the front. When we finally hit the climb I stayed in the group but started to fall back. The group really picked it up as we neared the top and on the first last hair pin switchback I started to get dropped. I dug in and gave chase but this climb was longer that the others and a bit more taxing. I got to the top of the plateau and formed up with a small group and we gave chase. We were losing ground and at one point I saw one of the motorbikes and tried to get everyone organized with the help of a Memphis Marx and Bensdorf rider Rick Carpenter. Still we didn’t catch up. We hit the feed zone and then hit the downhill. Once we were off the plateau were still had a good group and some of us were working but we still had the same guys that had no idea what to do. We caught the wheel that was stopped helping a rider, We all had to grab full brake before we passed it because of a car. Again not good and interrupted the pace. Once we got back up to speed I wasn’t paying attention a let a gap open up. Into a headwind, that was a bad mistake. Myself and a few others got gapped, they seemed to be okay with it but I wasn’t so I tried to bridge up. After two attempts I about blew my self up and puked. An SVMIC rider came up and we started working together. I recognized the are where the last climb was about to start. We got caught by a Cat three solo breakaway, then a few seconds later another, then as we started the climb the group passed us. Once they were by I hammered up this climb which turned out to be short and once at the top I didn’t feel too bad. I grabbed some more food and drink and hammered down the hill, 50 mph at one point. I passed one rider and caught another one that was in our group. we started working together at 26 mph. Two big MOAB guys caught up and they really started to pick it up. One guy pulled through and kicked it up to 30 mph. This paceline really hurt, these guys were killing me. I hung on and tried to skip a few pulls to recover and I slowed them down a bit, not on purpose but because I couldn’t do those kind of pulls. I knew the turn was coming up and these guys didn’t look like they could climb but they definitely looked like they could sprint and blow my doors off. I figured they would slow down at the turn for traffic and to rest because of the climbs, so I risked it and attack with everything I had left. I was out of the saddle rocking the hell out of my bike trying to get to the top. Once I hit the top I got back in a big gear and nailed it hard downhill to make sure I was away. I started up the second climb and looked behind me finally and they were gone. I got my self some more food and tried to get my self recovered and kept pushing. At climb three, I looked behind again and I still had a substantial gap they weren’t catching me. Then the motorcycle met me and told me there was a crash at the line, I had to stop. I rolled up to the area where the cares were and saw no officials. I ended up with a DNP. The morning of the Crit I spoke with the official and figured out where I placed, 39th overall and 22nd in my age group. Not bad for a race with all those frickin climbs and such a large field. I’m really happy with my last minute attack and getting away from that group.
by Loe Lambert