I don’t have too much to talk about since I just made a post, but there isn’t anything scheduled for a couple of weeks until The Natural State Criterium Series. Natural State was started last year and drew a bunch of big teams with it’s large prize pot. This year added another day of racing and is even bigger with some really exciting, national level racers showing up. We really need some volunteers to keep this race going.
With all of the heavy hitters showing up, I thoroughly expect to get spit out the back of the pack all three days.
Summer Waffle Series #3
Made my way up to Springfield yesterday with a van full of junior racers and their mother. Shanely had gotten into a wreck at the Tour of Kansas City and was feeling too sore to ride the Waffle. I have a blast being around people that are just starting out. There is a fire in their bellies and a thirst for knowledge. One of the juniors, a Cat 4, decided to race with the A race last week and opted for the same this week. Always put yourself out there in the tough situations, that’s where you will see the most personal growth.
We started off and I found myself immediately leading the group. It wasn’t out of choice, I just happened to roll out first and everyone filed in behind me with the Waffle Leader’s Jersey. I took the hand I was dealt and made the best of it, resting for a bit and then hammering on a series of 4 or 5 rollers. I wanted to set the tone early for how hard the race was going to be. It hurt, but it was definitely worth it, we eventually created some natural separation right after the first lap. The race was playing out very similar to the week before. We ended up with 4 Springfield Brewery riders, 3 riders from Kuat, and a junior from my team, so nine total in the break. I knew that with 8 riders, my chances of winning from the break were going to be low, so I pressed hard on the hills in an attempt to drop some people from the other teams. We ended up dropping a Cat 1 female, Danielle Dingman of Springfield Brewery Company, who apparently also recently won the Sprint and Standard distance duathlon National Championships, both in one day. Unfortunately, in the process we also dropped the junior rider. It was down to 3 guys from SBC, 2 guys from Kuat, and 1 guy from A+B Cycles, which is a sponsor for Kuat as well. They could’ve very well been on the same team, just in different generation of jerseys.
We hammered for the next couple of laps, with the guy from A+B Cycle and one guy from Kuat occasionally throwing attacks to make us work harder. With a half a lap to go, SBC threw a big attack while I was on the front and I was too late to catch and follow his wheel. I put my head down and increased my wattage by a little, slowly time trialing the group back up to him. He probably stayed out solo for 5 minutes, but the key was making sure that he used enough energy to not be a factor during the finish. There was a short hill that I knew I could make up a lot of ground and by the time we got to the top, we had almost brought him back. With maybe 3 miles to go, we got him with an immediate attack by a Kuat rider leading into the biggest decent on the course. I’m pretty good with the first couple of left hand corners, but then struggle with the immediate right, usually scrubbing too much speed, or going too wide on my exit. I got out of my saddle and brought back the small gap of two riders that had opened up. The group soft pedaled on the road going into the last two turns, waiting for the first person to make their move.
I was still soft pedaling on the front when we took the second to last turn and let a couple of riders start accelerating up the 8ish% average grade hill, with my eye on one SBC rider in particular. I knew for sure I needed to make it to the final corner first, but I just needed to time it just right. The SBC rider had a moment where his head dropped and he looked tired, getting up out of the saddle to get more power. This was my opportunity, 10 yards before the corner. I got up out of my own saddle and gave it everything I had, accelerating past the SBC rider and into the first position going into the final corner. I just prayed that no one had caught my wheel going into the downhill, ready to nip me at the finish line. Accelerating all the way to the line, I had gotten my Waffle win two weeks in a row. I don’t think there was the minimum amount of Cat 1/2 riders to qualify for upgrade points, though.
On paper, my last two seasons have been similar, but I can say things have felt a lot different. I feel more confident in a lot of different aspects that I was lacking before. I’ve been able to identify my shortcomings and my tactical execution has been refined. Last year I had 26 race days and I’m already at 24 right now and there looks to be roughly 10-15 more race days left in the season. By the time September rolls around, I’ll definitely be ready to take some time off.