Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Race Report: Table Mountain Crit by Greg Jackson (@ActionJCyclist)

After going to several of the Ideal Market/Twin Peaks crits, I was very impressed with the turnout of the 4/5 Table Mountain race. There were at least 40 guys there, if not more.

As Kirk mentioned last week, there are three primes throughout the race, occurring every 3 laps. There was also an insane headwind on the back stretch with some light rain even coming down for part of the race, which made it impossible for anybody to get away from the group, or to try to get a very good jump on any of the primes or the finish (and have anything left in the tank for a sprint). The nice part about this 'practice race' is that if people get dropped, they can join back up with the group on the next lap and contend the primes (but not the finish). All of this added up to an interesting race.

I went into this race with the focus of working on my sprint from within the group. The different primes provided a great opportunity for this as they were rather competitive with a good group of people contesting them every time. I was able to practice sprinting from several different positions from within the group, several of which were way too far back. I also was able to practice drafting off of other people in the beginning of the sprint and seeing where that got me.

On about the 2nd or 3rd lap (the lap right before the 1st prime), I was taking a pull at the front and a guy on Christian Cycling broke off the front, so I closed the gap, but then realized that the rest of the group was not with me. The other guy, having quite a bit of youthful enthusiasm (I later learned that he was 14), was really excited about this 'break away', so he wanted to keep going. I thought I would humor him for a bit, but, as expected, we were quickly pulled back when we turned into the headwind. As this was a bell lap, I initially wasn't going to go for the prime, but then I decided to at the last moment and ended up getting 4th.

For the rest of the race, I didn't do anything foolish like try to go on a breakaway, but I did take a few turns at the front.

For the 2nd prime I ended up getting 3rd. Again, I started too far back.

For the 3rd prime I wound up 2nd. I was initially boxed in, but was able to maneuver around a few people and wind up my sprint. The guy who got 1st had a good jump on everybody, but I was going much faster than anybody else when I crossed the line.

As the finish came up, I maneuvered myself into a decent position, learning from the earlier primes. As we rounded the corner to the final stretch (and our crazy headwind turned into a tailwind), a guy started to go very early. I thought he was going to fade for sure, so I wasn't too worried yet. I decided to try drafting on another guy for a little bit before the sprint really started. However, the rider who jumped early, and another who hopped on his wheel weren't letting up and they had about 5-6 bike lengths on everybody, so I moved around and started my sprint full gas. I passed a handful of guys, but came just shy of the two guys who went early, putting me in 3rd.

I think this race was a great learning experience for me and I now feel even more confident going into the state championship this weekend. Experimenting with my sprint on each of the primes and the final were a great opportunity for me to work on tactics and better learn where I need to be and what I need to do.

I almost forgot to add, one of the guys from Old School Industries (promoters of the race series), told me after the race, "Wow, Foxtrot has some really fast guys". He then referred to Kirk placing 2nd last week. It's always good to hear when we are able to build on Foxtrot's reputation!

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