26
May
09

GS Tenzing Crit – Day 2 of Memorial Day Weekend

Leading through the chicane at the Tenzing Crit

Leading through the chicane at the Tenzing Crit

This crit was run on the same course as last year, out at the Collin County Community College’s Frisco campus. I got up early and drove south to Oak Cliff, to pick up my protege for the summer, Matt Martinez. We then drove up to the campus, where we set up our bikes, and I then watched Matt race the Cat 5 event. Matt rode pretty well, took some pulls, challenged for a prime or two, but when it came down to the finish, unfortunately, he developed a serious cramp in his calf, and ended up out of the running – 1-legging it for almost 500 meters.

It’s been fun working with Matt. He’s got this incredible spirit, and his passion for learning and racing, not to mention the fact that he’s lost at least 140 lbs, and he has one of the hottest bikes in the business. I also like his intimidation. It makes him real. He’s old enough to know the consequences of falls, and he knows that he’s not superhuman – unlike the kids that I coached on Team “Dazed and Confused” in Montana in the 90’s. Still, he knows that he has a lot to learn, so once again, it’s going to take a LOT of races, rallies, and practice to get things right. He still has a little ways to go on his weight, but his Power! Man! I can’t wait to get him on a Ptap or Quarq!

By the time my race came up, it was almost 11, and the heat and humidity were picking up. I warmed up starting around 10, and wore my ice vest, something I intend to do a lot more as the racing season progresses. The ice vest is placed in a cooler packed with ice, but you also add some water in there, so that the vest stays pliant and can move with your chest once you put it on. It delivers a great way to keep your core body temperature cooler, but also allows you to sweat and release heat through your head, while you warm up your legs. I refreshed the thing by unzipping it every 10 minutes or so, hopping off the bike, and then dunking it in the cooler, and then re-zipping it around my chest. Teammates Andy Kutach, Darwin Darr, and and Jason Butler were there as well, and we decided that, just like the day before, we’d try to send guys off the front, attack and counter-attack, and shoot for some primes.

There were two problems with this strategy. First, there were over 75 riders on the course. Second, the course was dead-pan flat and super-simple, with just two right hand 90 degree turns, and a simple chicane. All of this prevented breakaways, since it kept the speed high for the entire 60 minutes. There were a few breakaways of 2 to 4 riders, but they never got that far up the road, and I actively participated in both attempting several breaks, and reeling a few in.

Andy Kutach and I go for a Prime

Andy Kutach and I go for a Prime

On one effort which was early on, I launched what I felt was a wicked-fast acceleration to try and seize a prime and thus force a breakaway, but I also told Andy I was going for it, and he ended up following me perfectly, then coming around to take the prime. I tried to push him along, but it was obvious that no one was going to go with him or with us, and we both came back to the pack to rejoin the group.

I need to comment about Jason. He’s been a fantastic teammate, and he’s been a real calming influence on me in the races. He’s come up 3 times in the last month, to basically tell me to back off, and quit wasting energy. I love to go off the front, but let’s face it – it’s not a smart way to race. Exuberance is one thing… Tactics and strategy are another. Jason is one smart athlete, and though he didn’t have any top finishes this past weekend, I have to wonder if it would have been as successful had he not been there to guide me and the other Mirage racers through the entirety of the events.

We went through the entire race as a pack mostly, but on the last half-lap, the average speed was something like 38 miles per hour (it was downhill and free of any wind), and there were still over 50 riders in the group. Andy took 6th, and some other Mirage riders did well, but I finished out of the money, and out of the TXBRA points (another competition for some sort of bragging rights at the end of the season – I think I’m in 7th in the novice category). The best news was that it was another race under my belt, all the Mirage riders finished wheels down, and afterward, we all decided together that we were going to race for Andy, and try to deliver him to the State Championships.

Pack finish at Tenzing Crit

Pack finish at Tenzing Crit

Matt and I packed everything up, got him home, and then I went home to get ready for an evening dinner at a friend’s house (more on that later). I think the other memorable note is that I got Matt a ride to Fort Worth on Monday for the State Crit Championships, with the help of a friend from another club.

Racing is hard, and crits are, honestly, really hard. But what I’m excited about is the fact that I’m actually FINISHING these competitions on the lead lap, and that the Mirage Cat 3’s are actually becoming players in the field. Furthermore, we’re bonding as friends. Each of us have our own strengths, but the common thread of desire, a willingness to sacrifice, good communication, and delegation of order and hierarchy on a per-race basis, really has me feeling that this group is special, and that we are acting as a TEAM. All we need is to maybe train more together (almost impossible in this day and age), and we might be able to actually cat UP together, or continue working together to push more white jerseys up to the front at the end.

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