Last weekend, Rock and I headed over to Wells Ave to race the A-race in the final crit of the year. The race was pretty painful and we knew that going in. We had gone to bed late the night before, which wasn't the best pre-race sleep schedule, so we knew going in it would be rough. Fortunately, we had our usual pre-race dose of Top-40 hits on the ride there and we were ready to go.
The race started fast and it never let up. After the second lap, they rang the bell for a muffin prime and the race sped up even more. These primes continued basically every other lap of race, which kept the pace high. It seemed like every time the race would settle down, someone would attack off the front and pick up the tempo. Rock and I both decided to sit and wait through the first 45 minutes of the race to save energy. There was no point going for prime after prime and tiring ourselves out early in the race. We were comfortable, even with the high pace, and our goal was to burn as few matches as possible and lead Rock out at the finish.
With ten laps to go, a group of 10 racers went off the front after going for a prime. This group included most of the strong riders, but I had held back on the prime to not waste my sprinting legs. I thought that the main pack would come back together after the sprint like it had the past ten times...but that is where I made my tactical error. I was sitting in the top 5 riders and I realized that the gap between us and the 10 guys ahead was increasing slowly. At this point in the race, I decided to go for it and I started to bridge. After a full lap in the wind I was 75 meters behind the leaders, but then the lactic acid build up took over and their gap increased to 100 meters, then 200 meters, and then I admitted to myself that I had missed the move and sat up to wait for the main pack.
After expending a lot of energy trying to bridge I knew the last 5 laps would be a trip to the hurt locker, but I had to get Rock to the finish. We came through the bell lap with me sitting 3rd wheel and Rock right behind me. Perfect position. The leader kindly pulled until the final turn where I took over and drove the pace home. I looked back to see Rock still on my wheel and I made my jump. As I did, we were swarmed with other sprinters and Rock unfortunately got boxed in. We crossed the finish line in the top 20 or so, but nothing to be completely excited about.
Even with the lackluster result it was still a productive race. We got in a 33 mile speed workout on a Sunday morning, learned from a tactical error, had a good lead out, and left completely exhausted. Once we get Alex back on the train this spring, we should have a strong lead out train to control the last couple of laps. Spring will be here in no time, as will the ECCC season, and we will be ready to roll. It was also a great race because my whole family, including my dogs, came down to watch, and then we went out to lunch to celebrate my dad's birthday and my parent's anniversary. That was definitely an enjoyable part to waking up so early on a Sunday morning.
Now that the road season is over my focus will turn over to long miles, rest, nordic skiing, and some cyclocross races. It is a personal goal of mine to field a strong Tufts team at cyclocross races by next season!