Packed up the car again to head South to miss the Kansas weather again. Seems like I’m spending the whole month of March in either Oklahoma or Texas. It was in mid 70’s on Saturday for the Salt Creek Criterium. It was really a circuit race, being 5km around with a couple hills. The Mercy Team from Ft. Smith Arkansas had their whole squad, plus a few. It seemed like every other jersey was blue. I had 3 guys with me, Brian, Bill and Adam flying the HRRC/Trek colors.
Nothing much to write about here. Mercy had decided that they wanted it to come down to a field sprint. They never had less than 8 guys at the front doing tempo, so that was how it would most likely turn out. Bill flatted with 2 laps to go, so he was out. Brian and I talked and figured he could take off with a lap to go and most likely make it to the line. He got away pretty easily, but half a lap later, flatted himself, only a couple miles from the finish.He would of won. Bad luck.
I felt just OK and thought I had a fair chance with a uphill finish. I started the sprint on Brice Jones of Jelly Belly. Brice is fast. I knew I had to jump first, but blew it when he jumped to the left when I was expecting the right. He beat me fairly easily. I was 2nd. Chad Cagle from Mercy third.
Sunday, there was a real technical criterium in Sand Springs, a small town outside Tulsa. It starting raining in the morning and kept raining though out the afternoon. A bunch of fair weather bikers these guys are, with less than 1/3 of Saturday’s field showing up to race in the rain.
The course was a figure 8 with a small hill, a U-turn, and a bunch of high speed, off camber corner’s. I was reading Bill Strickland’s book, “The Quotable Cyclist”, in the morning and saw a quote from my former MTB teammate, Ned Overend. It said something like you need to use smaller races to experiment and learn from, to get better for the bigger, more important races. I know Ned was mainly commenting on MTB racing, but it also really applies to racing criteriums in the rain. You’re never going to learn how to corner fast when it’s wet if you don’t race when it’s wet. There are so many things that need to be taken into account, that you’ll never be able to know them unless you participate.
Anyway, I’m pretty good in the rain and knew unless something disastrous happened, I’d have a good shot at winning. Nothing disastrous did happen. I lapped what was remaining of the field with just 6 laps left. From then on, I concentrated on helping Bill beat the other 4 guys left of the field. He attacked a couple times, but couldn’t shake them. I started leading him out with about a half a lap to go. Mostly downhill with a few sketchy corners. Bill ended up finishing 2nd by half a wheel, giving us a 1-2-6 finish. It’s been a pretty good season for our team so far, even though it’s early. We’ve raced 10 races and have won all but the race on Saturday (my fault). I doubt that winning percentage can go on much longer. But, it’s always a goal I guess. Results and pictures below.
Salt Creek Criterium PRO 1/2
1st Brice Jones Jelly-Belly
2nd Steve Tilford HRRC-Trek/Shimano
3rd Chad Cagle Mercy Cycling Team
Sand Springs Criterium PRO 1/2
1st Steve Tilford HRRC/Trek/Shimano
2nd Bill Stolte HRRC/Trek/Shimano
3rd Bryan Fawley Team Hotel San Jose-Austin, Tx