Benton Park – Gateway Cup Done

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I managed to stay upright and have all my skin after 4 days/nights of criterium racing in St. Louis. It is fairly unusual, especially approaching fall, where you can race four days of criteriums in a row.  It is just what I needed.

Yesterday, the race near Benton Park is the hardest race of the weekend.  The course has a ton of tricky corners and there is just enough elevation change that the field is super strung out and thus, lots of guys get shelled.

The race is really a positioning race.  If you’re not riding towards the front, you are putting out a ton more wattage than if you were.  Sometimes I’d be 400 meters up the start finish stretch and I’d hear Frankie Andreu say that the field is still coming around the last corner.  All I could think was that those guys have nearly no control of their destiny.

The race was most likely going to be a field sprint.  So many of these teams that are travelling the NCC circuit have no other game plan than to field sprint, so that is what is going to usually happen.  UHC sent Adrain Hegywary off the front for a long break, but an individual was never going to stay away.  Even Brad Huff, who can field sprint crazy good, did a suicide solo move with a few laps to go.  He stayed away until the final lap, with UHC lining it up to haul him back in.

My race went just okay.  I was feeling alright, no speed as usual, but I wasn’t having any trouble dieseling back up out of the corners.  Towards the end of the race, I was concentrating on staying somewhat near the front of the field, which is easier said than done.

I was pretty good on the last lap, better than pretty good, just 5 or so guys behind the UHC train, which was 6 of them.  But, I made a huge error that I couldn’t recover from.

On the last right hand corner, about a km from the finish, I came into it a little hot, trying to be right on the wheel ahead of me.  After the corner, the road goes downhill for a few hundred meters, super fast, and if you’re not drafting it is game over.

Anyway, the two guys in front of me got into it a little bumping match and my front wheel got in between them, I had to tap my brakes and that was it.  I was two or three bikes lengths off and it was going over 40 mph.  I ended up riding  the whole stretch in the wind, with just two corners to go.  RIght before the next left corner, a lot of guys went by me.  I was lucky to be able to slot back into line and get back up to speed, but by then I had lost 10 slots and a good result wasn’t possible.

Coming out of the last corner, a guy that had just went by my outside, I think it was Nolan Tankersley, took the corner way too wide and fell.  His bike hit the barrier and bounced back towards me.  See video below.  It is weird, because from recollection, it seemed like the bike was higher and way closer than it really was.  I had to swerve, which you can see on the video.  I passed a few leadout guys before the finish, but I was going nowhere, having wasted all my energy screwing up earlier.  I finished 19th.

I guess I feel better about finishing 19th than 17th the day before.  I was in a good position to have a result, but didn’t have the juice to recover from a huge mistake.  And the huge mistake was just tapping my brakes once.  Bike racing is interesting in that regard.

There seemed to be a lot of crashes the whole weekend.  I’m not sure why that was.  There was lots of bumping and elbows being thrown, but I never saw anyone fall from that.  Maybe it is the stiff bikes and harsh ride of carbon, deep-dish wheels.  Or the “new” position of having your handlebars way down, no headset spacers.  Or maybe it was because a ton of guys were at their limit and they make mistakes then.  Whatever the reason, there were probably 15-20 guys that fell each day.  Multiply that by 4 days, then it was 80 separate riders falling.  Out of 130 starters, that is over a 60% chance of hitting the ground.  That doesn’t count the guys that fell more than once.  Seems high.

After 4 days of racing criteriums, I moved up from 1300th best criterium rider in the country, according to USAC criterium ranking system, to 35th.  The reason for this was the quality of the field.  The best guys in the country were there, so the ranking numbers are very skewed.   I’m not the 35th best criterium rider in the country, so the rankings are not correct, which they never hardly are.

Driving back from St. Louis last night was way more dangerous than the race.  We drove into a huge storm just past Kansas City and it was blinding rain until Topeka, which is 60 miles.  We came upon a SUV that was on its side in the middle of the interstate.  There were two highway patrol cars already there, but no one was outside and no one was moving.  A bolt of lightning struck right next to the van.  It was so loud and bright that it scared the shit out of us.  Catherine didn’t have any power when I dropped her off.  I love weather, but it can sometimes be super scary when you are in it.

It is supposed to rain on and off all day here in Kansas.  I’m sure I’ll find a slot to be able to go out for a spin.  I didn’t wake up that tired today, but it is usually tomorrow, 2 days after, when it hits.  So, two weeks until Chequamegon.  I need to ride my MTB a ton this week I think.

We rode by the St. Louis Cardinal stadium warming up. They were playing the Cubs and there were a ton a people there.

We rode by the St. Louis Cardinal stadium warming up. They were playing the Cubs and there were a ton a people there.

The arch is super close too, so we rode over to check it out.

The arch is super close too, so we rode over to check it out.

The race went directly by the Budweiser brewery. It is huge.

The race went directly by the Budweiser brewery. It is huge.

This building was just off the course. There are so many huge, brick building in St. Louis. This one is obviously abandoned. I have never seen trees growing out of brick before.

This building was just off the course. There are so many huge, brick buildings in St. Louis. This one is obviously abandoned. I have never seen trees growing out of brick before.

This art work is down on the levee on the Mississippi RIver. Pretty incredible.

This art work is down on the levee on the Mississippi RIver. Pretty incredible.

Some more. I can't imagine how long these took.

Some more. I can’t imagine how long these took.

Results of Benton Park Criterium. Click to enlarge.

Results of Benton Park Criterium. Click to enlarge.

I’m in the blue, swerving around the bike that was missing its front wheel.

37 thoughts on “Benton Park – Gateway Cup Done

  1. Bill K

    You were lucky that the bike didn’t bounce back another foot.
    It’s hard doing well in criteriums unless you ride them just about every weekend.
    The guy on our team won the Cat 2 Omnium with two first, a second and a 10th. Maybe he’ll move to Cat 1, next year.

  2. RogerH

    Just an observation: Looks like the guy is pushed. Not that he wouldn’t have wrecked anyways but I see a hand quickly give him a hip shove just before he goes down.

  3. Krakatoa East of Java

    I slow-mowed it. That was a hard push, designed to put him out. The dude didn’t like the idea of a guy with much higher speed “ballsing” it like that. I think the guy could have stayed upright.

  4. Fergie

    Looks like he over-steers to avoid the pending apex, and loses the front wheel as the result of the counter steer.
    In other words, came in too hot..might have made it, but panicked enough to try and tighten up his line he had set.

  5. Krakatoa East of Java

    He didn’t even enter the corner taking it particularly “wide”. He was just going fast (and passing). The push is what sent him wide.

  6. Scott W

    Conrad? He probably should have been a 1 a long time ago. I remember him winning every cat 3 race two years ago.

  7. Krakatoa East of Java

    I wonder if the two guys in front of you who were “mixing it up” are the shoved (and the shove-ee)?

  8. john

    I watched the video several times using the pause button to stop the motion. If you look closely, the other riders hand never moved from the drop on this handlebars. Also, I don’t see how he could “push” while leaning away from the rider that crashed. The rider that crashed passed the other rider pretty fast.

  9. Krakatoa East of Java

    They went into that turn following the same curve. Something (or someone) suddenly changed his line.

  10. devin

    60% chance of falling during the weekend? And the need to spend hundreds of bucks to travel for the reasonable chance to break thousands in equipment? This is Fight Club for skinny dudes.

  11. mike crum

    great weekend of racing.. i understand your benton park race report, but then i dont. when you were in a good spot but you had to touch your brakes and in doing that , that cost you lots of places, what about all the guys behind you that had to react very quickly and touch their brakes, or had to veer way off their line? maybe those guys behind you were far better sprinters than you.. so you really cant say if you didnt hit the brakes you would have done better.. kind of a chain reaction.. am i correct in saying this?

  12. paul

    This shit is looks like F1 motor racing in the late 80’s and early 90’s before all the electronic aids come in. Better have big balls, late brakes in the corners and get the F on the throttle early and hard coming out of of

  13. ALS

    I understand your comment, but then I don’t. What part do you need help with? Or are you just a jackass who is bitter about their dismal life they have make negative comments everyday in order to feel better about themselves? Perhaps you didn’t read (I’m assuming you do know how to read) the part about Steve’s front wheel becoming between the two guys side by side in front of him which forced him to tap the brakes, then he was gapped 3-4 lengths. See that is the point Steve is trying to make, he made one mistake, that effected his result. He did NOT say could’ve, should’ve and my result would’ve been better. However, you, Scrum, did say that Steve said that by your quote of “so you really can’t say if you didn’t hit the brakes you would have done better”. Perhaps the guys behind Steve were better sprinters, maybe better bike handelers, maybe they were better climbers too, and I’m for sure they were better rouleurs than Steve. BUT, that is not his point.
    You, Scrum are a bitter worthless peice of shit. And, I, AM correct in saying that.

  14. Chris Froome

    Hi Cycling Fans and Mr. Tilford! Chris Froome, famous non doper and spokespersonage, as it were, for us European Pro cyclists who proclaim this wreck was not caused by a moto- nor was it caused by a miniaturized motor nor was it caused by “just bike racing,” having seen the HD version of this on the widescreen pulldown TV in my Sky in the Sky Motorhome, however, I can assure you this was caused by gravel.

  15. H Luce

    yeah, looks like someone got shoved good enough, doesn’t take much at those speeds. That *was* a close call, looked like Steve passed the handlebars of the crashed bike at less than a foot of separation.

  16. Catherine walberg

    Looks like a push to me. No sane person takes that last corner at speed disengaging his right arm in the turn to stretch. Not sure what happened before the camera view but it sort of doesn’t matter. You don’t get to push someone out of your line even making an unlikely assumption that the person ahead of you (the guy that fell) took a tighter line through the corner. Sorry, Mr. Pusher, you didn’t have the skill to take the corner tight. That doesn’t mean you get to push the guy ahead of you out of the way.

  17. The Nudge

    Cardinals stadium…Cubs beat down the Cards once again. Please Cards fans, stay in St. Louis. I know its cool to come to the big city to spend some quality time outside your decrepit building-tree growing, brewers yeast billowing metropolis, but please think again next time you book a flight or hit I-55.

  18. Mark

    Looks like we are gonna have to teach an old dog new tricks. Steve, instead of tapping your brakes and getting gapped the other day you should have fully accelerated up between those 2 riders and given the old “hip push” as to secure the better line!

    Remember that video you posted a while back of the rider standing over another rider while punching him in the back of the head? Yeah, I totally get that.

  19. Matt Grothoff

    That big brick building with the trees growing out of it is an old brewery, at first was the “Consumers Brewery” and eventually was purchased by Falstaff to become one of their breweries. Been there for over 100 years. You wouldn’t believe how many old brick buildings there are like that in StL!

  20. JB

    Enjoy the series win, The Nudge. Maybe the Cubs should get better hackers.

    NL Central W L PCT GB
    Cardinals 87 51 .630 –
    Pirates 82 55 .599 4.5
    Cubs 80 57 .584 6.5

  21. Krakatoa East of Java

    Some people assume that if a bunch of people are going single-file into a corner (at-speed) that their line is the ONLY line. Along comes a guy who applies some logic: “I’m allowed in the corner too, and I can also pass you”. Those guys often don’t feel obligated to adjust to the change in circumstance. But they need to. Circumstances change. That’s bike racing. Adapt. Corners are no less a part of the road than the straights. And notice that there is no rule saying that corners are no-pass zones.

    This perp saw a guy challenging his assumption of the situation and meted out his own brew of street justice. I hope USAC investigates and takes action.

  22. Krakatoa East of Java

    It IS possible to adjust one’s line (given new circumstances) when coming out of a turn. A guy passes you in the turn? You’ve been passed. He is under no obligation to continue into a barricade just because you’re intending to go wide. You must make the adjustment. To do otherwise will put him into the barricade.

  23. Just Crusty


    When you’re on a guy’s wheel at 35 mph & you tap the brakes, you will drop out of their draft. If you only slow to 30 mph, in order
    to catch him and regain that draft, you have to compensate by immediately accelerating to 40 mph. And that acceleration is a) without benefit of draft and b) while repassing the 3-6 guys that just went by you. Bit of an oversimplification but it’s physics.

    Try riding a crit sometime, or maybe just try riding with a large group of experienced riders. You’ll learn a lot.

    . In order to get back in that cu


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