Matt Donahue

Monday, June 18, 2007

RFK Crit Race Report

I came into this race with the hope making a top 5 finish. I had suffered badly at the 24 Hours of Big Bear the weekend before and spent most of the week resting and doing recovery rides and fighting back a sour stomach and general badness. Thursday and Friday’s rides left me feeling ready for some hard efforts and I wanted to get back some dignity and see how I would do in a sprint, which from all reports is how this crit typically ends.

As Mike S. reported, we lucked out with the 8:45 AM start time and enjoyed the lowest temperatures of the day. I’m sure it would have been a different race had we started with the 4s at 4PM.

Right away I noticed that the 5 field was stacked with about 8-10 Route 1 Velo/Capitol Hill Bikes riders. Although it was a 5 race, it seemed inevitable that those guys would organize something and send riders off the front and keep attacking to wreck the field. Fortunately they didn’t do much and the field was able to react to the attacks they made.

It was great riding with Darren and Mike. Each took some big turns at the front. Darren even broke free to dangle off the front for over a lap. Mike S. and I did all we could to stay on or near the front and soft pedal during his sojourn, but a course like that isn’t great for breaks and Darren soon returned to the group. My big efforts consisted of chasing down one Route 1 guy who dribbled off the front, and then sticking on an Artemis guy’s wheel for about a lap. I stayed away from any solo attempts or any long efforts on the front, trying to conserve for the sprint.

The smooth pavement of the former Le-Mans/Gran Prix street race course made for a fun course. It was pretty sweet leaning in on the curves and feeling the tires hook up at speed with no bumps over cracks or potholes. As usual, there were a few sketchy, boneheaded moves. One particularly puckering event was when I watched the guy directly in front of me drift into the rear wheel of the guy in front of him. Predictably, he over-reacted to correct his error causing some yells and so forth, but thankfully no one went down.

With one lap to go and all major moves reeled in and neutralized, the pack started organizing for the final charge. I started moving up and staying very conscious of Route 1’s moves as well as my own position, struggling to stay in the top 5. I’m not sure what effect it had, but on the second to last straightaway there was a rider noodling along the left side who had been dropped on the previous lap. I don’t understand why the official didn’t pull him off to the right, but whatever. The pack had to avoid him which may have caused some issues for those on the left side of the group. I lucked out and was on the right. Rounding the final corner, the sprint was on. Two guys jumped, Nunez (eventual winner) and a Route 1 guy, followed by a Pedal Shop rider and me and whoever behind us. It was quickly obvious that I wasn’t going to catch the front two, who had carried some nice speed through the corner. But Pedal Shop guy (Shawn) and I battled it out to the line. I managed to get around him and beat him by a wheel?

It marked my first top-three road finish.

Thanks to Bega and the Hub Racing crew for running a great Crit. Thanks to the sponsors for their support! It’s great to have a local race that you can ride to within your home town.