July 31, 2017 In Uncategorized
Salida with Love (and Rain)
It was the first time I heard a race promoter describe the conditions of a criterium course as “tacky,” my eyebrow raising as Wheeler and I picked up our numbers. Music to the ears of a mountain biker, but I’m not sure the 12 hours of rain that fell on the eight-turn course through downtown Salida was having a similar effect of traction. That said, the course was well swept, staffed and protected in the last dangerous corner, so let’s give credit where it’s due.
A weather pattern known as Murphy’s Law swept through town that morning, clearing and drying the course right until our field began to stage when those initial raindrops began to fall again. There art and science of bike racing tactics is belabored topic at best, though there seems to be one area of general consensus of what to do when it starts to rain: just go like hell. And so that was the plan as Wheeler, Murph, Ducky, Kit and I lined up at the front. The whistle blew, Wheeler went bananas, I followed suit after failing to clip in the first time, with Murph on my wheel. The ensuing three lap team time trial had the desired effect of shelling a few guys out the back, though the course had not yet gotten wet enough to achieve the end goal of obliterating the race. And so we sat in for the next few laps and let things settle down.
The second half of the race was animated by consistent attacks, stringing out the field through the first four tight turns, usually with a regrouping on the long back stretch of the course after turn six (thanks headwinds!). The cessation of hostilities rarely last long as the regroup created good conditions to counter. The pitter patter sprinkles had turned to a steady rain, as the field continued to whittle down.
With four laps to go Wyatt Gaulke of Reynolds Roofing snuck off the front solo and I, your humble narrator, admittedly failed to notice until two to go, when a spectator noted the gap was standing at eight seconds. I started the lap on the front with Wheeler in my draft and I put in a good effort to chase with a rider from Pedal Racing pulling through for the second half of the lap. As we crossed the start finish on the bell lap, it became apparent that Wyatt was going to stay away. I was sitting 3rd wheel going into the first turns with the pace high, and an unattached rider pulled through on the back going half until turn seven. The unattached rider swung a bit wide opening the door for me to take the inside line into in a mildly sphincter puckering turn eight, where I sprinted to the line towing along Murph, who in an act of kindness and camaraderie, did not sprint around me. Two Primals on the podium as we geared up for the state championship road race the following day.
A detailed account of the road race will have to wait for another day, but in broad strokes, the fun technical downhill backside of the course was countered by the desire to quite bike racing on the frontside that went uphill. Despite that, Ducky hung with the front group, attacked the descent with one rider on the last lap, and secured another second place finish for the Primal 3’s!