Monday, April 7, 2008
Santa Cruz Classic crit, cat 4, 4/6/08
The Santa Cruz Classic crit is my favorite race. I love the course, it was my first crit race 3 years ago, and having friends and family watch definitely adds some motivation. My friend lives at Cliff and 3rd, right at the top of the climb, so about 15 of my friends and my dad showed up to cheer me on and cook bacon and pancakes on a camp stove as a post race reward.
In the past, I've had good success by making sure I'm in good position on Laurel st extension as it narrows down as people in the back will get slowed down going into the turn and waste energy accelerating up the hill lap after lap. In the front you can get a good line and not lose much speed. The hairpin is really not much of a worry, but the inside line is a little tricky as it's sharp and steep.
The start was 45 minutes late as they had to tow a lot of cars that were on the course. I talked with Nick Purtscher during warm up and we were going to watch one guy who has done well in the past couple races. If we could get in a break with him we could probably be successful. There were had about 75 riders, a lot more than I had raced against in the past years. Ed Price was in the race too, but he was going to use the race as a warm up for the M35+ 4/5 later on.
The first couple laps were fast paced, I worked hard to stay in the front 10 and made every effort to spin up the hill instead of standing and grinding. The group was a little strung out, but usually bunched together a bit on the climb. I didn't see the attack, but the guy Nick and I pinned took off with another rider around the middle of the race. They got up to like a 10" lead, but were caught a couple laps later.
With 5 to go I caught myself slipping back, so I made a big effort to gain some positions on the climb. It's hard to concentrate fully when your friends are yelling "SPRING BREAK" and there's bacon scents wafting through the air, but I got back into front of the group. My legs felt suprisingly good, and I knew I would have a good chance if it came down to a group sprint.
Leading up to the last lap, the pace picked up significantly with no real attacks going, this was going to come down to a group sprint!!! The last lap was fast, I took a good line through the outside at the Spruce street left hand turn on the backside of the course and moved up to about 6-7th. Going into Laurel extension I got pinned on the inside and lost a lot of speed in the turn. I slipped back to about 10th starting up the hill. I went about 90% on the hill and picked a 3rd Pillar guy to follow as he had some good speed at the crest. There was a couple guys just ahead of us and some guys on the side as well. The 3rd Pillar guy started fading with about 100M to go, and right when I was starting to go around him on the left he moved over just enough to slightly rub my front wheel, this slowed me down, so I had to reaccelerate and go around on the right. I had a good shot to the finish, and was able to pass a rider or two after getting slowed. I finished 5th, but just missed out on 4th.
I felt really good this race, worked hard for position without spending too much energy like I did at Brisbane. After the race, I enjoyed my bacon and bloody mary with friends watching the other races. If you happened to see the big red bird out there, that was me..... hope I didn't distract you too much Joe =)