First Race, First Win of the Season

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Yesterday I was mildly surprised. Not only about that I won the race, but a multitude of other things. I was surprised how much it hurt to take it up 10 notches from training to racing. It surprised me how strong other guys already are mid February. It surprised me that I forgot how fun it is to corner at 30 mph on sewups.

The race was a one hour criterium, but better, or worse than that, it was a points race. So there were 3 points sprints, so one about every 15 minutes, plus the end. There were about 40 + guys at the line, which seemed pretty great considering. Seems like criteriums have been getting a bad rap recently. Maybe it is a Pro deal, Pros not liking criteriums much, I’m not sure, but for some reason, the criterium is looked down upon by the average Joe bike racer.

I think criteriums are great. I think that it is the best public viewing of bike racing and probably the only segment of the sport that might eventually become a successful American spectator sport. Plus, it is a great way to get in a ton of speed work and intensity without going out and banging your head against the wall alone.

The race started out crazy fast. The course was pretty much a rectangle, with one corner a sweeper. Right from the gun, it was on. I was way over my limit, or what I considered my limit, from the get-go. Somewhere during the 2nd or 3rd lap I was thinking that maybe I wasn’t going to be able to finish. I didn’t want to miss the front group, so was covering just about anything that moved. I’m not close to fit enough for that. So I followed wheels for a couple laps and then, probably about 5 laps in, I felt the field was pretty done, so I put in a half-assed attack. Nearly immediately, Joe Fox, Cycle City, blew by me and proceeded to take a full lap at, what I considered, warp speed. When I looked back after 3/4 a lap, there were just two other guys, Garrick Valverde, Velotek, and Michael Smith, Kaos.

That was pretty much the right combination of riders for a successful break. We soon got into a fairly even rotation. If anything, I was pulling the shortest, but I had so many question marks floating around, I wasn’t willing to make the stupid error of getting gassed and spit out early.

Pretty soon they rang the bell for the first sprint. It was going to be straight into a pretty strong head/crosswind. We all kept in rotation and Michael led it out. I didn’t have any problem coming around him, which mildly surprised me. It gave me some confidence, but was still early.

So, we kept the rotation going pretty much until the end of the race. I won all three sprints, one by just a bike throw over Garrick. Eventually, towards the end of the race we had lapped nearly everyone. On the last lap, there was only one group left to lap, a big group with my TradeWind Energy team mates, Brian Jensen and Bill Stolte, and most the other historically better riders. We rode into them with just 2 corners to go.

This is when I got a little mixed up. I was trying to follow Michael Smith, who had a pretty strong team mate leading him out, but somehow we got juggled pretty far back when Joe Fox attacked with 1/2 a lap to go. Then Garrick somehow came by us and had a huge gap with 200 meters. I was just following Michael, drafting him on the left. Somehow, maybe a wind gust, I ended up on the far left of the road, which was a pretty beat up, cracked surface. I hit a parallel crack to my tires and had to do a big stutter coast to keep my balance. That was all she wrote. By the time I got going, I couldn’t get by Michael. Garrick was a few lengths ahead. But, since I’d won all the intermediary sprints, I still had enough points to win.

I wasn’t too bad at the end. My left leg was not up to speed, which is becoming normal. But I seemed to have okay form compared to everyone else, which was nice.

We’d ridden over the 30 miles from Topeka and got some extra clothing on and headed back pretty much right after the race. We weren’t going to have much extra daylight. But the problem was the temperature dropped super fast. Like 20 degrees in an hour. I was once again frozen. Mainly my fingers and feet. I think they got way too cold on Wednesday and it is going to take awhile before they quit punishing me.

Right now I’m driving to Columbia Missouri for a 60 mile road race. I couldn’t talk anyone else into going, so it’s just Trudi, Bromont and me. I didn’t get enough sleep, which is usual on race weekends, but unsual now, since I haven’t been racing for so long. I think the last criterium I did was the first week of July, the Nationals Criterium Champhionships. That is weird.

Okay, that is all for now. My worry today is mainly about dressing correctly. It is only supposed to be in the mid 30’s, so I don’t want to miss it.

I probably jumped 20 times during the hour.  19 more times than I had previously this year training.

I probably jumped 20 times during the hour. 19 more times than I had previously this year training.

Early in the race with Peter Boyd and Bill Stolte.

Early in the race with Peter Boyd and Bill Stolte.

Riding back to Topeka after the race with Bill, Ian and Jack.  Photo by Kris, who was there too.

Riding back to Topeka after the race with Bill, Ian and Jack. Photo by Kris, who was there too.

Results.  Click to enlarge.

Results. Click to enlarge.

9 thoughts on “First Race, First Win of the Season

  1. BJ

    Steve, please allow me to add to your Spring Fling recap post.
    It was great to see so many riders in the cat 1/2/3 race at Spring Fling. In the past Jim Whitaker has not allowed cat 1’s in the race. Obviously it was a huge success to allow the cat 1’s back in race with about 40 riders competing yesterday. Although this blog is about Steve Tilford, I think it is nice to mention that TradeWind Energy Cycling Team is now only a team of three guys and we were all doing a close to perfect ride yesterday. With only three guys in the race we still covered all attacks. We did not miss anything. We have been racing together for so long that we know each other so well and that is very valuable when racing. Once the strongest rider in the race, Lee Bumgarner, took off to chase a long gone break with Steve, Bill Stolte was right on his wheel and got to “motor pace” for at least 20 minutes. Unfortunately Steve’s group caught us with less than half a lap to go and the second group on the road never got to finish the race. It was great to see Steve and TradeWind taking first place in the first race of the year and in a race with so many strong riders on much bigger teams.
    Thanks to everyone making the trip to Lawrence, KS to make the race fast and fun!

     
  2. Wildcat

    DNP = Did not place. Usually happens with larger fields on a small course. It’s when officials decide to only place a certain number of riders. Some call it lazy, but having had the experience of officiating races like this – it is tough as shit to try and keep track of – and place – every rider who starts as part of a large field of racers, all at different levels of fitness this early in the year, lapping various groups of racers over a period of an hour. Sure the alternative is to pull riders. Thus giving them a DNF, but this race series is designed to be an early season training race series. So I’m sure the officials decided to let the riders who were not getting in the way – finish their race for training purposes and only place the top x number of riders.

     
  3. Benn

    Just to clarify. It’s a points race, so if you don’t accumulate points, you don’t get scored. It’s not an issue of laziness. Intermediate sprints are 4-3-2-1 finish is 8-7-6… and so on. So if you don’t score in the top 4 in the sprints, or the top 8 in the finish, you’re out of luck.

     
  4. Pingback: Spring Fling Opens up 2014 Kansas Road Season

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