Monday, June 21, 2010

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Bike The Bricks and OKC Rocks

The 3-day-race weekends continued in McKinney and Oklahoma City this past weekend. McKinney Velo put on a new event in downtown called "Bike The Bricks" and it's definitely the coolest crit I've done in Texas besides the Downtown Austin Crits held over the last few years. It was a tight course, at night, and a quality field. We had the numbers but still, that doesn't guarantee anything in bike racing. Everyone wants to win and was hunting for that $2,700 1st place purse and a 15lb heavy trophy. It worked out well, with Sully + Ronnie making the move and Ronnie winning the sprint in dominant fashion for the "V". Me and Carlos ended up riding away from what was left of the diminished peloton for 7th and 8th place and we put all of our guys in the Top 20 or so. Great night.

Ronnie being "pro"

Two new events on the Oklahoma Race calendar followed Saturday and Sunday, fashionably labeled "OKC Rocks". This town might not be know to you for the great riding and racing opportunities but there's something in the making and those crits were definitely a sign that there's lots of potential for great bike racing in the future. My friend and fellow MSU Cycling alumni Greg Saxon is involved with it and it was good to be back in Okie-land! Day 1 around the State Capitol did not go 100% according to plan as Josh got narrowly beaten at the line by an early-charging Brian Jensen and we settled with 2nd, 4th, and 6th and the rest of the guys in the all in the Top20. But we made up for it on Day 2 when the same P12 field + Raul Alcala and his teammates from Mexico took on the 90-minute crit just south of the Oklahoma Capitol. Four of us made a solid break in the last 20minutes of the race and Sully, me, and Pat McCarty got away at the end with Sully taking the win ahead of RBM's MVP Pat and myself. The three of us ended up lapping most of the remaining field and I think I'm celebrating at the bottom of the finish "hill" in the pic below while Sully crosses the line for the "V".

Sully for the Win at OKC Rocks, Day 2

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Tulsa Tough

I've been coming to Tulsa Tough every year since 2006. Back then, it was a bit smaller and less teams showed up but over the last years this event has grown to a 3-day NRC criterium series with guys + girls coming from the East and West Coast to get a slice of the $100,000 prize money spread over 3 days and all categories from Cat 5 to P/1. Chris Z of New Medio, the City of Tulsa, and the entire cycling community really built themselves an awesome race weekend there in the middle of boring Oklahoma...well, Tulsa ain't boring that's for sure!

We had a good team lined up and hoped for some sprint finishes with our very own Josh Carter on hand. That was the plan and well, sometimes you're the hammer, sometimes you're the nail. Friday's crit was more "nail-like". The Blue Dome night crit was fast and furious but everything stayed at bay for the most part, we followed moves and I went for a "Fireworks prime" ;-) At the end of the night, though Josh lost the wheel in front of him and with 90guys trying to be up there and chopping corners etc. we didn't come out with much.

Sportswriter and photographer Lyne Lamoureux of Podium Insight took some pretty cool shots that night:

Saturday's Crit at Brady Village looked to be yet another field sprint since former Mercy teammate and super-sprinter Huffy wanted to keep adding points to his Overall lead and we also hoped to have Josh there at the end. Besides, the course is fast and even though there's a small hill on the backside (in front of the SOUNDPONY) not much separation is usually made. The legs felt good again and I remember winning the Gambler's prime last year just before the lead-out trains almost rolled over me...This time around, though it was time to go to work and help setup Josh again. A dangerous move of 10 or 12 rolled off with 30minutes to go and we only had 2 guys in there. We stuck with the plan and Carlos, Heath and I brought it back and the rest of the guys took care of the rest to keep Josh up there until the end. It ended a bit differently as planned out with Sully getting 7th and Huff winning - again! We were close, but not there. One day to go, though.

Sunday's Riverview Criterium is the most exciting, craziest, criterium I'm racing each season. Athens is right next to hit, but the "Cry Baby Hill" is so unique and just therefore TulsaTough deserves its spot on the NRC calendar! The 1K course is more like a circuit, with a short + punchy hill, some rollers, a downhill and 500m flat along the Arkansas River. Every year I did this race the winner almost always rode in the front, made the breaks, and sometimes even lapped the field. No different today. There was not much hiding you can do on that course. I found myself off the front a bit too early after I took the first KOM on top of the hill so I backed off again and tried to save the legs for the rest. Guys would go off and come back and 30min it was time to go again as a group of 6 or 7 rolled off the front. Jelly Belly was happy to control the field and wait until the end and just watched guys who could threaten Huff's lead. Good for us. I was in good company with Tilford, Bergman, Schmalz, Haga and a couple of other guys. It didn't go far, though and we re-shuffled again. Finally, Brian Jensen made another move and me and Bergman joined and the three of us just rolled for the next 30minutes until 5 or so to go. If you have three guys racing on the front and being committed to stay away on a course like that it's hard for anyone to just bridge up or the field coming close to us. 2 guys made it, though and one of them my Kiwi teammate Logan. Solo for 3 laps to catch us and close a 25sec lead! He gave all he had to make it a bit harder and launched an attack but Jensen was unbeatable today and rode away with 1 1/2laps to go. Bergman, the other guy who bridged up and I were left just ahead of the charging field with 1/2 lap to go. I was behind Bergman coming out of the last corner but the other guy was right on my wheel and I had nothing left for the sprint for the last podium spot. Frustrating for sure, since it was so close and having ridden in the front most of the day. But still, it was a nice end to an exciting weekend and we definitely had the hammer in our jerseys today!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Texas State Crit Weekend

The Memorial Day Race Weekend is always fun and the true start to a month of crit racing in the region. Was not different this past weekend. Pro/1 races only seems to be the "new thing"
to do in Texas racing so the fields are way smaller, the purse goes down a bit and the racing gets harder? Not so sure about the last one,though.

Saturday was Glickman Crit in Richardson, a race I won a few years back out of a 2-man move with Minturn getting 2nd back then. We got the right break going but lacked the true sprinter in the move and that was it. One down, 2 to go. Sunday's GS Tenzing Crit was much more fruitful, with Josh getting launched with 300m to go and Logan getting 6th and a few more green/black in the Top 15.

The actual TX State Crit was back in Ft. Worth like the last few years. Great course, technical, fast and spectator-friendly. We had the fastest guy in the field so we made sure everything stays together for the end and the plan worked out. Josh and Carlos (2009 winner) went 1-2. It might look good to have all the guys at the front but no matter if it's a local crit, the P/1 State Crit, or an NRC race it takes a lot of teamwork to get this going. New Cat 1 addition Brant Speed fit in well and THSJ-founder Barry Lee did his share, too (see picture). Hopefully these are signs for things to come.