Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Hello Cat 3! (Capitol Crit & Boston Harbor CR)

This weekend marked my entrance into the Cat 3 field in Wa bike racing. (Cat 1 is the highest amateur category in the US, and you start out as a 5 and move up from there - rules are here)

Well you have to jump into a new category at some point, and this was my chance. No reason in waiting until the end of the season to upgrade, I had the points, and upgrading was in fact the point of racing in the first place. When I first started watching local races a few years ago, the Cat 3's seemed so sleek, so slim, and so fast. They were half-way to pro for all I knew.

Fast forward a few years later, and they don't look so tough any more. (Well, a few of them still do!) And now I'm one of them!

The Capitol Crit Cat 3's, 50 minutes - Saturday 6/26/2010

It was a rush to make the ~1 hour drive down, and we left a tad late and got stuck in traffic... it was a close call, but there was no way I was going to forfeit the race just from being late. I'd rather get dropped from a race than be late to it!

Anyway we made it down with minutes to spare, 10 to be exact, barely enough time to sign up, do a lap, and line up. Upon lining up I noticed the pack was tiny... wtf? I thought this was a big annual race (at least, I think it used to be), but the word on the street is everyone is burned out from the racing season and taking a break. Or something. Screw that, at least a few of us showed up!

The course is interesting, right in front of Olympia's capitol dome, a slight uphill, some snaking turns, broken up pavement, and a little uphill sprint finish.

Only 15 racers, but it'll have to do. I didn't have a goal of getting a good placing for upgrade points, just wanted to hang on and see how it went. They say Cat 3 races aren't actually that much faster, just longer, smoother, and more animated.

And indeed, from the gun, attacks went up the road. I figured they were all doomed, as it was so early in the race! But after a while they were still out there, and guys were bridging up, or trying to. I thought about going as well, but was already at >180 bpm and didn't want to get dropped from my first Cat 3 race.

More people were going up the road, and it was all I could do but watch. At first the gap was around 10-20 seconds - a manageable gap so early in the race. I was this close to jumping on a wheel to try to bridge as well, but held back so as to not overdo it. Just hang on, see how it goes.

After a few more minutes the gap had grown to 30 seconds, then 40. And somehow 4-5 others had made it up there, leaving 10 or less of us behind! The race announcer even threatened to pull us towards the end, if we didn't close down some of the gap. And here I was thinking they were they break and we were the race, but maybe they were the race and we had been reduced to a chase group?

I also had no idea which teams had guys up the road, meaning I wasn't sure who was trying to "block" the chase and who was trying. Looking back it seems obvious, but at the time it was confusing.

But no way I'm getting pulled in my first Cat 3 race! So I got on the front a few times, though it hurt a good deal, and pulled. Or tried to. When I did so, it sent the heart rate way up (e.g. over 190) and I had to back off... ugh. There's just nowhere to hide in a group of 7-10 riders on a windy-ish day.

There were points where I thought I was going to have to pull myself (read: get dropped), but I kept on pushing. That's the name of the game, keep pushing on, don't give up. The finish is out there somewhere. (This idea works well in the rando world too)

Finally I look over to see they've stopped the count-down clock and switched to the lap count. 10 laps to go. I can handle that, just hang on..

5 to go. Still in there. Time to start thinking about the finish, and my positioning in the "pack." With 1 to go, I tried to get in the top 3-4, and did so.

Coming out of the final turn, there were 3 guys ahead of me. One took the turn a bit wide, so I passed him on the inside. Then he finished his wide turn, while sprinting and apparently looking down, and came back into the lane, where I was. Luckily I was ahead of him by enough that his wheel just hit my frame (or something), and I cringed a little, waiting to hear that sound. (of bikes & people hitting the ground)

After the dust settled I'd gotten 3rd in the "field sprint," for 8th overall. Not too shabby for my first Cat 3 race!

On the cool down lap the guy that almost ran into me came up and said, "You did this and that, yada yada yada..." and I replied, "hey file a complaint with the officials, I held my line!"

Later after we'd cooled down a bit I said I was sorry, even though I'm still pretty sure I was going straight at that point, and he came to the right into me.

Had I made a crazy move in that last 50-100 meters, the USAC officials would have relegated me or DQ'd me, or something. That's what they look for, it's part of their job. But nope, there I was in the results, scored as 8th, proof enough for me that I didn't do anything wrong in the sprint besides lose. Maybe next time I'll just yell during the whole sprint so people that aren't paying attention will at least know what's around them...

Boston Harbor Circuit Race - Cat 3, Sunday 6/27/2010

6 laps of 6 miles each, on rolling hills north of Olympia. Not very long of a race, but it'll do. Last year I had a rough time with the circuit races, placing 30th or worse in all of them. Dunno what it was about them, but they always hurt, bad.

Having survived the crit the day before, I had a little more confidence coming into this one. Plus I was gonna have some team mates in the race! They say team tactics don't really start until the 3's, so I was excited to see what the talk is all about.

And I was glad to see 50 or so other Cat 3's show up, so we had a decent field. Cool. Too bad we all had to be packed into one tiny lane... there isn't a ton of space to move up in these types of races!

Anyway we set off and did a 1/2 mile neutral lap, where people jockey for position for when the race really starts. We went down the hill, a sweeping right turn, then a slight uphill. The race was on.

In a big pack like this you can stay protected, and dare I say relax a bit! Instead of the 182 bpm I averaged for the whole 50 minutes of Saturday's crit (yes, ouch!), I looked down to see 130-150. Ahh, this is like a group ride around the lake!

Well, only for so long. In the first lap the attacks started, and there were many. Adam on RCR went off the front, but was reeled in. Groups of 2-4 would try, and maybe last 1/2 lap, but get pulled back in.

About halfway through a group of 4-5 was up the road maybe by 50m, and it looked promising. I was on my team mate Mike's wheel, and was going to try to bridge if he didn't, but he did. And once he did I tried my hand at "blocking," so I got on the front and went slow. But I didn't do it right, it was way too obvious, and a guy behind us (there was another guy from another team blocking as well) yelled, "C'mon guys, there's blocking and then there's blocking."

So I scooted over and let him through, he just wanted to bridge up. Maybe that was the last of the big teams would bridge up and the pack would be happy with the combination of riders up the road, and let them go. Which I'd be happy with since Mike was up there.

Of course you don't want to chase down your own team mate in a break-away, so once people starting amping up the pace I just let them do their thing. No need to break wind for anyone and make it easier for them to catch my guy up there!

The group got brought back though, and we were only about halfway through. Still plenty of racing left.

Later in the race I joked with Josh, "Hey man when are you going off the front?!" And he replied, in a serious voice, "Soon." Sure enough, within minutes he was heading up front, getting ready to make a move. In the beginning of the last lap he moved up the right side of the pack and rocketed off the front, solo.

By the time we hit the right turn leading to the first big-ish downhill, only maybe 30 seconds later, he had what seemed like a huge gap. "Fuck yeah, go Josh!" I yelled with glee. But 5-6 miles can be a long time when you're trying to average 25 mph or so, solo.

He stayed off the front for almost the whole lap, getting caught on the slow riser leading up to the 2nd biggish downhill. It was a great attack though, I enjoyed watching it. I thought about countering once he was caught but figured it would be a suicide mission.

So I waited for the field sprint, along with everyone else. The last mile features a little climb, then a flat/almost-downhill section leading to the finish line. Alex had told me this race usually ends in a big field sprint with a big crash, so I was up front to hope to avoid the chaos. Mike, a team mate who's been racing for 10 years or more, also advised me to stay in the top 15, at least, for the finish.

I was fearing the sprint in fact, not because of crashes, but because of the hill that led up to it. Lucky for me most others seemed to have the same thoughts, and the whole pack took it (relatively) easy from the 1k mark at the top of the hill to the 200-meter mark. A breather at the end of the race, last thing I would have expected! (Looking back, that would be the time to attack, though it's tough given the previous hill)

Anyway we hit the 200-meter sign, and everyone went at the same time. From 30 mph to 35 mph, and then....


Right in front of me guys started falling. At 35 mph no less... bikes and bodies flying, and that sound. Quite the view I had, that's for sure. Went left around the carnage, ran over a bunch of shattered plastic (sunglasses perhaps?), and saw a bike with big aero wheels cartwheeling towards me from the right.

Ok, that was close! After making it around the crash I pretty much sat up, given someone had already won and the top 6 was spoken for, the results didn't matter anymore. What mattered was that I made it out unscathed! Pretty sure I came in about 20th, but never saw the results so it's hard to say.

After the race we talked to Sean, one of the guys who went down. Shoulder had a quarter-size hole in it, but worse was that his back was covered in road rash, as if he'd been clawed by a dragon. Ouch.

Patrick, a nice guy I'd just met the day before, also got caught up in the "action" and looked about the same, if not worse.

At least they were walking around, but will certainly need to take a few weeks off to recover. Could've been me, it was so close.. but hey that's racing.

You don't get rewarded without taking some risks.

All in all it was a great weekend of racing! Next up is the Joe Matava crit on the 4th, one I did last year. Can't wait! Let's see if I can avoid the carnage... with more confidence I hope to start animating a bit more in these Cat 3 races. Time will tell.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Tacoma Crit 2010: Cascadia Crit Series Finale

(so yeah this is about two weeks late, but here you go - enjoy! Coming up next are Cat 3 reports from the Capitol Crit & Boston Harbor Circuit, so stay tuned)

A few Saturdays ago was the last race of the Cascadia Crit Series, and I went into it in 1st place, wearing the Leader's #1 number. A little pressure, but not much since I had a good deal of points ahead of 2nd place, and was feeling good. And I can corner like a mofo, which is what crits are mostly about.

A few shots from the scene:

View from the beer garden:

The Race

After 20-30 minutes on the trainer, we did a few practice laps with other racers. The 4/5's were going first so they were still setting up the course when we got there, and at one point they put a big red inflatable banner across the course, I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I thought it must be a joke. Only 20-25 feet across, I imagined parts of our peloton bouncing off the inflated thingy and causing epic crashes..

Luckily they thought twice about the plan and put the red inflatable rainbow thingy off to the side, where it belonged. There were enough turtles in the road to look out for without having to worry about that monstrosity.

Anyway we got to the race and did call-ups, I got to get called out as 1st place overall once again. Not something I could get tired of, I must admit...

We got off on the first lap and I put in a good effort (looking at power data, the peak 5-sec/30-sec/1-minute/5-minute/etc for the whole race!) from the gun, hoping to hit the pack hard and soften if up for Kyle, who was gunning for a spot on the top 3 podium, sitting in 4th place.

One junior from Rad Racing and I somehow ended up with a gap between us and the pack on the first lap - not the plan, but for my last 4's race why not? I just needed to get another top 15 or so and I'd keep 1st in the bag.

But once you're out there alone (or with one other you can barely hang on with, in this case) you realize how hard it is to maintain that. I can only do 190 beats per minute for so long..

We got reeled in before too long, maybe a lap or two out there, but it was fun. I guess the warm-up was good, because I jumped right back in the pack when we got caught and got ready to snatch up points premes if they came along (on Kyle's behalf, I didn't really need them).

Sure enough a points preme came along and I got 2nd in it, enough to get 3 more points.

The pack was a little.. squirrelly at times, if you will, and while there were a few close calls on the slower backside (4-5% uphill), I think there was only one minor crash in the race. I came through a few gaps that weren't very big, but luckily kept it upright.

In the final lap I sat back a bit and watched Kyle move up and take 3rd, I got 7th. Success! Kyle moved up to 2nd on the podium, and also got some more points towards his 3's upgrade.


As a reward for holding on to 1st place overall I got showered with all kinds of gifts. A trophy (pictured below), a wheelset (seriously!), a leader's jersey, and $125. Never thought I'd get anything but a challenge from racing, but it's been that and then some I guess.

1st overall leaders' jersey!

A cool trophy from the Chihuly institute:

More photos

AJ & other rider off the front in the 3's race:

The pace car for the 1/2's:

More photos on flickr, as usual.

Thanks to Rob from the ride down, and to everyone for racing & not crashing too much, as well as to RT and the whole Cascadia Crits crew for putting on such a great series. Looking forward to next year's edition!

Goodbye Cat 4, it's been fun. Hope to see some of you guys up in the 3's soon!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Brad Lewis Memorial Criterium 2010

Last Saturday was the Brad Lewis/Boat Street Crit, the annual race held in the U-district in front of Recycled Cycles. The 5th race in the Cascadia Crit Series, and I had a pretty solid lead in the 4/5's.

As a part of the RCR team I worked the race all day, helping set up before-hand, sweeping the corners, etc (starting at 6 AM!). Also worked registration later in the day, and enjoyed a great day of racing - even though it rained a little.. but it was some great urban racing.

The Cat 4/5's start, with a few of us in blue n' gold up front. Kyle & I got the call-up so we got nice spots up front.

Heading into the first corner, a little uphill into a one-lane section. That's Adam on the front, in 2nd place overall, a strong dude:

Another shot of the first corner:

Heading into the second corner:

Second corner:

The 3rd corner:

Leading the pack through the finish straight - notice the big cracks in the road, love it:

Leading again, a little further down the road:

(thanks to JC for taking those photos during my race)

At another point, attacking and/or going for a prime:

(thanks to Todd for taking that photo)

As you can see from the photos I spent a good deal of time of the front of the pack, perhaps too much. But with my 26 points I actually didn't want the points you get from winning, which would force a mandatory upgrade (at least in theory) so I sat up on the last lap and let everyone duke it out. I still came in 7th overall, so I guess I sprinted but I made sure to do it from 10th place or so, not from the front of the pack. Seems silly now to try not to win, but with one more race left in the series I didn't want the five points you'd get from winning this race.

After our race the women's 4's race went on, and then the 3's race - usually the 3's are thrown in with the p/1/2's, but they at least got their own race. Unfortunately not many women showed up due to the rain most likely, but I thought it was great the organizer at least did that for once.

The 1/2 women raced as well, along with the Cat 3's, juniors, and the kid's race. Eventually it was time for the p/1/2's. I was working the registration booth when many of these racers sign up and I can attest that they seemed mostly human, quite surprisingly.

Video of the 1/2's going through the second corner, chasing a breakaway most likely.

The 80 minute p/1/2 race was certainly more animated than our race was, with a breakaway of five or so off the front for one half of the race, then a different set of 4-5 off the front for quite a while. In the end there were two off the front (I if recall correctly) who got to sprint for the win together.

It was a great day of racing, watching racing, and working the race. Glad I finally got to do this race!! Thanks to Recycled Cycles and the Cascadia Crit Series for putting it on. Already looking forward to next year.

Tomorrow is the Tacoma Twilight Crit, looking forward to it! I'll be in the money no doubt tomorrow, and should be able to hold on to 1st place overall. Then it's time to move up to the Cat 3's!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Ballard Criterium 2010: First Win!!

The Ballard Twilight Crit has been on my calendar since last year, as an "A" race. That meant my whole training plan (when I had one anyway) was centered around this race. It's the atmosphere there that made it great to race there, and probably makes it an "A" race on most people's calendars too.

Getting 13th in the 4/5's last year, after about a month of racing, I figured I could at least do better this time around as a Cat 4, after about a year of racing.

And going into this one I was the overall leader in the Cascadia Crit series 4/5's, even though I hadn't actually won any of the races (placings were 4th, 5th, 3rd - being consistent was paying off, along with the fact that the top guy dropped out after Seward).

In fact I hadn't won any races up to this point - and isn't that why one gets into racing, to win? Getting fitter & faster is fun too, but winning is the ultimate goal.

Getting Ready

Kira & I drove over to Ballard and parked close to the course, behind a building where others were parked (we figured it was safe to park there, but nope we got a ticket after all!) I didn't have to worry about getting into the race like at Seward, I was pre-registered and just had to sign in. Plenty of time.

Warmed up under our team tent, a Cat 3 let me use his trainer for a few minutes, sweet. And in fact it was for only a few minutes; after getting signed in, waiting in the porta-potty line, etc, there were only about 20 minutes until our race time!

Riding the trainer was so much better than my warmup for Ballard last year: rolling around the streets east of the course, just riding back and forth on the .5 mile stretch before Fred Meyer. I don't ever use the trainer we have at home, since I like riding outside, but for something like this it was a great way to get the heart rate up and get sweaty. I've always heard you should be a little sweaty when you get to the line, and even though the warm-up was only about 10 minutes long it was enough.

Got to take one or two practice laps of the course, and it was familiar from last year, though there was cardboard held down by duct tape over some 2x4" cracks in the pavement in corner one, and a set of hay bails blocking the apex of turn two, which was a little different.

The Race

One of the great things about being on the overall podium in the Cascadia Crit series is the "call ups" you get to do before the race. Once everyone is lined up they call up the top five people in reverse order, so I got to go last. It gives you some recognition and also gives you a good starting spot.

The whole pack of 75 lined up and ready to go - but only one can come out on top:

After some announcements from the official we were sent off, and I was excited! I used to almost dread the start whistles of these big crits, now I can't wait for them. Another chance for points, another chance for a win. Another chance for fun, and to gain more experience racing.

Got lined up in the first 10 or so riders in the first turn, and loved how much more smooth this race is from the front of the pack than from the back, where I raced it last year. Last year I felt like I really had to dig to maintain contact coming out of turn two, but this year we were coasting into a nice fast backstretch with a tailwind, and not having to jam it at all.

It felt a lot easier than last year overall, though the average speed came out to about the same. Guess I've just gotten stronger. Actually I know I've gotten stronger, I can see it in the training numbers and more importantly results. I was just surprised how different this race felt this year.

Before the race the announcer explained premes to the crowd, and said that "racers can used them to gauge the sprint and get a feel for it" or something along those lines, something I'd never thought of. I always thought of premes as a waste of energy or for those who were super strong, if they could win a preme and then take the race too. So I usually ignored them.

But this time when a points preme came up, I was on the front and went for it. Just kept the pace high and led the pack out (from what I remember). It seemed easy, was nobody else going for it or what I thought? Only 5 points to add to the ~800 I already had in the omnium, but for me it was more about figuring out that sprint. And winning that preme probably gave me the courage/confidence to really go for the final sprint (something I never thought I'd win).

Other premes came and went and I just made sure not to drift too far back, stayed in the top 20 pretty much the whole time. Some people like to ride the race from the back, and "tailgun" it, but it seems to me that just sets you up to have to deal with gaps, crashes, and the accordion effect. F that.

The Crash

About half way through the race we come into the finish straight and we're being waved around a First Rate Mortgage racer lying on the ground in the middle of the course near the finish line. Doesn't look good.

Next lap we come through and there are more people waving at us, and at first we're getting ready to go around the injured rider again but soon realized they wanted us stop completely. I wouldn't have thought it was possible to stop a crit, but it was done pretty smoothly. The officials had the chasing pack stay about 20 feet behind our lead pack, as the field had split into two groups at this point.

They had an ambulance come and take the guy away. Heard later he was knocked out at first, probably broke his collarbone and might have separated his shoulder as well. Along with a concussion, as his helmet was supposedly smashed as well. On the one hand that's a scary image, but I guess that's what helmets are for..

I heard about three different versions of how/why he crashed, ranging from he was along and went down out of nowhere, to the version where a lapped rider took him out on accident. Either way it didn't look good but he was conscious and gave a thumbs-up on the way out.

Hope he's doing alright - anyone have updates on his condition?

Race Restart

The officials set 15 minutes on the clock, and restarted us. I looked around and the front line was almost the same as when we started, lots of points leaders: Dave Z., Chad, Adam, Rob, and me.

After a little while they switched from time to 8 laps to go, and the countdown began. A Lenovo guy went off the front, but couldn't get much distance. Pretty hard to go off the front in a flat crit like that, but he lasted a lap or two I think.

With about three laps to go the pack was back together and my team mate Kyle came around the front and started to light it up. I could see what was happening (he was leading me out for the win!) immediately, so I jumped on his wheel. This was the time that would decide the winner, I figured.

One guy in an orange or red kit was between Kyle & I, but on the backstretch he dropped out, couldn't hold the pace. I could barely hold the pace myself but yelled "GO!!!" at Kyle, making sure he kept the gas on. We were doing close to 30 mph, or maybe more, and it was all I could do to hang on. I could only hope our high speeds were stringing out the pack, and setting everything up for a win.

Looking at the photos, the pack sure was strung out! Perfect.

This effort hurt, a lot, but I knew that there were only minutes left in the race. Time to empty the tank.

One lap to go, and it's still Kyle & I on the front, and he's turning the screws as they say. In the back of my head I'm just hoping we can hang on to this, and see what happens coming out of the last corner.

Sure enough we come into the final turn 1st & 2nd, and as we get into the finish straightaway I'm hoping people don't start swarming around us. Wasn't sure how much of a gap we had on the field, if any, but I know my sprint isn't award-winning so it was going to take a little gap to get me to the line.

Switched all the way to 53x12, and ground out the sprint up the slight uphill towards the line. Felt hugely over-geared and as if I was doing 60 rpms, but just held the gas as much as I could. Nobody was coming around yet!

I could hear the announcer calling the sprint and my name, and it certainly helped as motivation. Since Kyle is so fast I was almost afraid I wasn't going to be able to come around him, but slowly gained ground on him and finished with space between us, his hands in the air in celebration of our team's win.

(as a side note, I promise to buy these photos!)

(from the GCRacing FinishLynx camera)

Thanks a billion, Kyle! Couldn't have done it without your leadout. Team work in the 4/5's, who would have thought?

After crossing the line I closed me eyes and thought "HolyshitIcan'tbelieveIjustwonBallard!!!!!", then sat up and gave my victory salute: arms down but slightly out to the side, as if I were ascending into the sky at that very moment. I like to think of it as my "Cat 3 birth" in fact, as it give me the points I need to upgrade to the 3's!

After the race we did a cool-down lap I got to give a little interview over loudspeaker, that was pretty surreal.

If all this description of the race isn't enough for you, someone from the Bikesale.com team made a great video of the 4/5's race! (and a bunch of the other races too)

Race #4: Second Ascent Ballard Twilight Criterium Men Cat4/5 2010 from David Hose on Vimeo.

Won a Thompson seatpost & stem, along with some more free socks (I'm starting to get a collection of these). And of course bragging rights for the next year..

The other thing I got from the race was seven upgrade points, giving me 26 total! Since you only need 20 points to get to the Cat 3's I can upgrade now, something I thought would take years. (Some never get out of the 4/5's at all) I became a Cat 4 back in March, so it's taken about three months, I can't believe it. I think the whole "build/base/peak/race" training plan has worked out well! (7-12 hours per week these days, for the record, as I've been asked a lot about this lately)

Since I want to finish out the Cascadia Crit series as the 4/5's points leader by doing the Tacoma Twilight Crit next weekend, I'm going to be a "sandbagger" for that one race and stay a 4 for now. $125 goes to the overall winner in our category and I want that person to be me!

A message to Rob, Ian, Chad, Dave Z, Tim, Kyle, Jed, Adam, and everyone else I know in the 4's: get your asses up the 3's soon! I'm gonna need the company. But I'm looking forward to longer races that start later in the day, and "Cat 3" certainly has a nice ring to it..

From what I keep hearing it's not that much faster in the 3's, it's just that the surges are faster and the fields are deeper, and of course the races are longer (crits are one hour, road races are 60-90 miles). The worst it can do is make me faster.. also looking forward to racing with Jordan R., Mark, and Jordan L. that I've raced with previously. See you guys soon!


Ballard Crit 2010 (minus stoppage time)
Duration: 31:10 (38:18)
Work: 463 kJ
TSS: 51 (intensity factor 0.991)
Norm Power: 287w
VI: 1.16
Distance: 13.071 mi
Elevation Gain: 855 ft
Min Max Avg
Power: 0 1004 247 watts
Heart Rate: 121 198 182 bpm
Cadence: 16 121 81 rpm
Speed: 0 37? 25.1 mph (a tad faster than last year I think)
Crank Torque: 0 1695 243 lb-in

Thanks to all the volunteers & the Second Ascent team/shop for putting on this awesome race, and all my friends (Liz/Dennis, John, Rachel) that came out to race or watch! And of course to Kira for coming out and cheering me on. I'm so glad you were all there to see it.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Cascadia Crit Series: Leader!

I was sitting 2nd place overall in the Cascadia Crit Series coming into the Seward Park race yesterday before this race. The third race out of six, Seward is a course I've done about 25 times since last season, so nothing new, but a big crowd and lots of motivated riders ready to tear it up.

I've been racing the 6 PM race there this year (the 3/4's field) which has provided extra challenge, so I was hoping doing a 4/5 field would be a tad easier. Maybe, but not by much!

The Race

Team mates Kyle & Chris were there, and Chris even went on a flier during the race, hoping to draw Counterbalance guy into a failed break, or something. Kyle later did the same later on, trying to wear out those eager to win from a break. And the whole time, I just sat up front and watched with glee.

As the final laps came around I made sure not to leave the top 10, but that was easier said than done, and coming into the final downhill I was probably about 15th. As we got to the flat-ish section the pack was together, waiting for someone to pounce. If nobody pounced most would happily cruise up to the top of the hill, and then light up the sprint.

But I've raced here enough times to know that the ones that win the sprint start before the climb, to get a gap on the field. A guy led me up the left side of the pack and then pulled off, and that's when I took my chance. I pounced. Already red-lining but the finish line is close, so I emptied the tank.

As I took the soft left on to the climb, I looked down and though to myslef, "Holy shit! I'm in first, and nobody has come around yet! I won finally!"

But it was too early to celebrate, and not long after cresting the hill at least one guy had already jumped beyond me, and I could hear others behind. The rest is kind of a blur but one more guy snuk around me towards the line, and I just held on the gas up to the line. Here are the three of us sprinting around the bend towards the line. (Note: I didn't coast in the sprint like I used to, that's for sure!)

Congrats to Jeff that took the win, he also beat me out in one of the points premes and is obviously strong. I looked around to see how Aaron on Counterbalance did, since he was 1st overall and leading me in points. Nowhere to be seen?? Later on someone said he had to pull out due to a mechanical issue or something. Sucks! Not the way I wanted to get on top of the overall podium but that's racing I guess.

On to the podium, where the top 5 in the race got $20 cash. Then the overall podium, and guess who's on top? Me!

In addition to a nice pair of socks and a water bottle & nuun tablets, I was also presented with a Leader's number to wear in the next race! Pretty sweet:

But it's not over yet, there's still Ballard & the Brad Lewis Crit to contend with this weekend!

Here we go...