Leave it to me to get 5th in a race and be a little frustrated with myself, but I feel like I had even more in my legs for the Bryan Park Circuit Race on Sunday. The race went well enough with teammate and new Cat 4 Jerry strutting his stuff at the front and putting on a nice show for his kids who came to watch. I sat in midpack the first few laps, but moved up every time up the backstretch climb. Yet our race slowed dramatically every time we crested the second kicker. There was a slight headwind, but it seemed more like everybody was trying to recover. Then we’d go screaming through the final turn and up the little hill to the finish.
By the 4th or 5th of 13 laps, I attacked on the backstretch as the slowdown occurred, but no one came with me and as always with the 4s it prompted an immediate response and they pulled me back by the finish line. A few laps later I went again, but earlier, attacking hard out of the tight turn and up the hill. I crested the hill with 50 meters on the group and a passenger. I let him pull through, but he was immediately flicking his elbow, so I just sat up. He didn’t give me any time to recover and clearly couldn’t pull us and I wasn’t ready to keep going.
For the remaining laps I stayed as close to the front as possible. Things hotted up going into the final lap and, as we screamed down into the tight corner, I was in about 10th wheel. As we came out of the corner, accelerating hard, I heard and then saw a nasty crash on the far right. (Turns out it was Braden Govoni from Carytown Bicycles, the race organizer; he broke his collarbone and was out of it for a while; hope he heals up well.) Despite the crash, we hammered up the hill and I thought we’d finally keep going. But once again the line of riders spread out five across and slowed to 22mph as we rolled the backstretch. I was stuck in the middle. An attack finally went on the right, but I would have had to take someone out to get on that train. At least that prompted those in front of me to ride again.
Down into the final corner I was probably 25 meters behind the attacking riders when I finally saw some daylight and opened up my sprint. I got past all but five coming up the hill and pipped a guy at the line for fifth. I felt amazing in the sprint and only wish it had been longer. I might have moved up even more. Jerry got a great 9th and Art came in 17th.
I liked the Bryan Park course. It was just hard enough to wear on the legs and sort out weaker riders. Flatter, shorter crits don’t necessarily do that.
postscript: Thanks for the call, Art. (Art called me from bad traffic on 64, west of Lightfoot, and told me both the highway and Route 60 were backed up. I got off at exit 227 and took a bunch of back roads I’ve learned from riding with Dan up there. I was able to get back on at exit 238 just past the wreck of an RV. I called Art and he was still back at milepost 232. Ugh. Sorry.)