Tulsa Tough has put up replays of all of the races from the weekend up on Vimeo. It’s cool to see it from another perspective, but after a while my midwestern modesty kicks in and it feels strange watching myself. The Sunday video will autoplay (Seriously, Vimeo, no control over autoplay? Lame.) so be sure to give it a pause if you want to read the race report from this weekend first. I’ve started the videos of Saturday and Sunday right around where the action happens.
Summer Waffle Series #4
So last night Shanely and I went up to Springfield to win the Waffle Jersey for the fourth weekend in a row for Bentonville Racing. My role again this week was to be domestique for Shanely–his goal is to get as many upgrade points as he can before August 15th ish. He’s really close to his Category 2 upgrade, so every little thing counts.
There was a two man jump about halfway through the 1st lap and one of the guys is the Kuat guy who had been in breaks with us every single week. Shanely jumped and I followed his wheel, coming around him when we approached the two breaking away. They had slowed considerably, so Shanely and I trucked on for the rest of the lap, eventually coming back to the group. Because it was just the two of us, we probably wouldn’t be able to stay away, or at least the chances would be really slim. The other teams in the peloton would have the firepower to take turns bringing us back in and when we do get back in, we would be too exhausted to respond to attacks from the other teams.
The second lap I helped reel in a solo break, letting him hang out in the wind for a bit before closing down the gap. Eventually, Cale the Kuat rider, made another move on the 2nd lap. Shanely called to make the jump, so we bridged up to Cale and the other rider from SBS-PDG. We rotated well for a while and then I noticed we were slowing down quite a bit when the other two got on the front. With two riders from an opposing team in a 4 person break, you try to do as little work as possible to have the ability to counter attack when the time comes. But, we couldn’t just go back to the group, so I decided to take longer pulls at the front to keep us away from going back to the pack. I took a short lived rest before the downhill descent right before the last climb where the magic happens. I got on the front of the 4 person group and laid down 430w for the last two minutes, setting Shanely up for the jump up the steep climb. He held back a bit and let the other two guys go before following their wheels and and then eventually passing them and taking the win.
Not without a bit of controversy, though.
The centerline rule in cycling is a weird rule. It makes sense for all intents and purposes, but it is not a black and white rule–it’s a grey rule that needs context for proper discipline. Shanely had passed Cale (the series race director who was fading hard on the final climb) on the left and Shanely’s front wheel ended up crossing the first line in a double yellow line. Technically, any break in the yellow line is a violation, but crossing the yellow line happens frequently within a race (for example: sometimes you come out of an apex of a curve and end up over the line or sometimes a rider is going left and your option is to either run into them or cross the centerline [aka what happened to Shanely]) and if it’s going to be enforced with a disqualification, it should be enforced as such for every rider.
But, in reality, this is a training race series. Something we should all be taking pretty casual. For sure, it’s good to go into the race with objectives and goals and to race safe, but to cause a huge scene in front all of the other racers, including a large group of juniors, isn’t a good look for the sport. Shanely’s other options would have been to crash out Cale and himself or slam on the brakes and then restart his attack by going to the right. He wasn’t putting anyone in danger (in fact, lessening danger for both he and Cale) as he was already traveling at a much higher rate than Cale.
After the race, some other official came up and gave Shanely a talkin’ to, antagonizing him even more. Shanely has been racing for quite a few years, he’s well aware of the rules and doesn’t need two other grown adults talking down to him. It should’ve been resolved in a peaceful way, but instead was made into a problem with threats of disqualification. Largely, I think this has to do with Bentonville Racing coming in from out of town and dominating 4 weeks in a row. Even our juniors got a win in the B race. It’s okay, that just gives us all the more incentive to come up and mop up for the rest of the series.
Edit: It has been brought to my attention that Kuat has “zero interest” in winning any of the Summer Waffle Race Series, so this was not a reaction to dominating their local race 4 weeks in a row. All the same, we have fun at those races and look forward to finishing out the series competitively.
Natural State CriteriumFriday–Bentonville
There is nothing like a local race to get you all revved up. There are streets that you’re familiar with, people you know screaming your name as come around a corner, it’s always so much fun. There was a chance of early rain during the Cat 3 race that cleared up and kinda dried up off the roads by the time it was time for the Pro/1/2 race at 10:00 PM. Night racing is cool (literally) because everything feels twice as fast in the dark. The course was pretty well lit up except on the back straight away before the chicane leading into the start finish.
A few laps in and we had already started to average 28 mph. Luckily, I had gotten a decent start with a good position from the gun. If Kansas City only taught me one thing, it was that tailgunning criteriums (riding from the back and picking off slower riders) were not going to be a viable game plan anymore. I was going to have to nail my start/clip in and get going. It’s not that it’s a particularly hard thing to do, it’s just that when I’ve got the race jitters, I sometimes miss clipping into my pedals and getting going. After about five laps the rider in front of me slid out in the final corner and I didn’t have very much room to miss his bike so I ended up going straight and unable to correct my line. I hopped up onto a 5 inch curb and then went right into a rose bush. Honestly, I was just thankful that I didn’t have road rash or a broken bike/wheels.
I couldn’t figure out my chain right away, so I ran down to the mechanic’s tent/wheel pit and they got it sorted out and looked over the rest of the bike, sending me back out when the group came back around. A half a lap later I realized my front tire was going flat, so I went into the wheel pit for the last time and got a new tube put in in no time. Phat Tire’s bike mechanics were really impressive, ready to fluidly handle all of the carnage of that race. I hopped back in with the lead group this time around and settled into 15th wheel or so, holding my position really well for a couple of laps. My luck ran out again just a couple of laps later when there was a huge pileup of 5 guys from Oklahoma Bike Project on the far side of the course. The rider in front of me was probably right around 18 years old and just kept staring at the pileup, even though he had a clear exit. I yelled at him to get his shit together. It was really frustrating. I ended up solo for a bit before they pulled me and placed me 24th. It was a fast, technical race, so it got a bit sketchy, but my parents were there to support and I had a lot of local friends yelling so that was really cool.
This was probably my favorite of the whole weekend. Roughly a quarter of the race was bricks and cobblestones with a short rise leading into the finish line. It was also at night, so there was a section of the course that was pitch black while we were going up to 39 mph. The whole course required the full attention of all the racers. I had said previously that there were going to be some big shots showing up to this weekend’s races and boy were we in for it. Three guys from Elbowz Racing out of Austin, Texas cleaned up the entire weekend. It was definitely impressive to see, but I felt like the difference was more ability and timing than power. They were super active and animated the whole race. I got into some good positions for most of the race staying between 20th and 1st, even helping chase down a break. It wasn’t really my responsibility, but I was nervous and felt like I was racing like a Cat 4 again. With three laps to go I was sitting in the top 5, but my legs were definitely feeling tired. I was taking corners pretty sloppy (pretty sure I got yelled at, but who can tell for sure) and had to sprint out of the corners to catch back on. Soon I had filtered back and ended up 28th. Having power is only half of what makes up a good racer in this sport–execution is the other half.
What was really cool is that my Aunt and Uncle had come from out of town to visit my parents and it timed perfectly with this series, so they got to see this race and the next race. They were really blown away by how fast we were riding (30mph average on some laps) and how tight the pack was riding.
Initially, this race looked like 100% rain and there is a ton of road paint on the course from crosswalks and lane indicators. If it was going to be wet, I would’ve been fine with not racing. Luckily, it was sunny and actually rather hot. I noticed a lot of people seemed tired from the Bentonville and Rogers races. My legs were definitely sore, but I quickly loosened up and was feeling pretty good. I floated through the pack really well and felt more confident in my cornering during the day. It didn’t matter too much, though, on the last lap I didn’t have the best position going into the last few corners before the finishing straight. There was a crash on the outside of the corner, taking out a few riders and I knew I didn’t have a very good chance of getting higher than 20th. In the end, I was 22nd. There were around 40 riders in each race, so I was right around mid pack for all of the races. Going into the weekend, I had decided that all three of the races were going to be more of a learning experience than anything else. If I could hold on, finish well and not blow up, I would be happy. I wanted to get comfortable with cornering at high speeds and getting into good positions within the pack. Definitely a successful weekend.