Sunday, October 7, 2012

Race Report: Fontenelle GP

Local races are always a tough call. Fewer riders mean fewer variables. You might be able to ride away from guys at a big race, but those same guys can stay stuck to your wheel at a smaller race. Fewer variables to get in the way. We were set to have one of the most competitive fields we've seen in Nebraska since maybe ever. With Trek CXC teammates Jay Thomas and Matt Tillinghast, along with Jeff Kluck who made the trip down from Sioux Falls. Throw in the Monkey Wrench triple threat of Nate Woodman, Kevin Wilkins and Troy Krause, with Team Kaos riders John Rokke and Jared Berger, as well as Trek Store teammates Lucas Marshall and Paul Webb and the field is stacked. After all four of those guys, plus myself, just went top twenty at the last USGP.

The new venue at Fontenelle Park outside of Benson turned out to be a real gem. I wasn't too impressed during pre-ride but at race pace it had really good balance and the corners flowed really well. It will be a worthy venue for the State Championship in November.

I always get nervous at these first few local races. Having not raced against Jeff yet, I didn't really know what to expect. He had some great results at Cross Vegas as well as in Iowa recently. His punchy style is the exact opposite of my steady state pedaling and I always struggle to sit on his wheel.

Killer skies at the start
Photo: Jeremy Cook
We actually had a call-up for once. Although it was based on Wednesday's Flatwater Twilight race so that was kind of weird. Why more promoters don't use the USAC points rankings for call-ups I'll never know, or a starting grid for that matter. It's a really good way to seed riders and a great way to get people to travel to higher caliber races in search of a higher points ranking if they want a better start position. I digress.

I had a couple of goals going in. The first, lap Rafal. His idea, not mine. We joke about the art of the perfectly timed finish, aka get lapped on the leaders last lap so the lapped rider doesn't have to do his final lap. I was a master of this for many years. The second, bury myself and go deep in preparation for Fort Collins. With no racing on Sunday I didn't need to leave anything in the tank.

At the whistle, Jay took the hole-shot followed by Jeff, Matt and myself. I'd planned to do the usual, sit back on lap one and see how things play out. Jeff and Jay swapped positions a couple times and I moved in front of Matt. Through the sand the first time, Jeff bobbled but I was able to stay on behind and navigate through just fine. Initially my biggest fear looked to be coming true, that this would be a dirt crit as a group of at least 10 of us finished up lap one.

As we made our way down the start straight I decided to put in an attack and see how everyone was feeling. I opened up a little gap as Jeff took chase and continued to drill it out of every corner. I ended up staying on it pretty hard through lap 2 and 3 taking my biggest time gains through the sand.

Photo: Jeremy Cook
At this point I'd worked the gap up to 15 seconds and decided instead of maintaining I'd keep the tempo high and shoot for a minute. I was hoping the heavy chasing that Jeff was having to put in would soften him up for Matt or Jay but it just wasn't to be. Matt said he had dead legs and Jay was knee deep in a heavy training block. The racing looked exciting and tight behind me as there were more than a couple battles going on. For me, I just kept telling myself to keep the pressure on and build fitness for Fort Collins. I would eventually roll across the line with a 1:22 gap over Jeff in second and 1:54 over Matt in third. Jay was next in 4th with Jared 5th. And, keeping with my promise, I lapped Rafal on my last lap.

Goodbye, thanks for coming
Photo: Jeremy Cook
Next week is race two of the Flatwater Twilight Series on Wednesday and then we're off Thursday night for the second round of the USGP in Fort Collins, the Smartwool Cup. Form seems to be good and it feels like I'm still building. I think taking today, Sunday, off from racing will be key. Looking forward to more.


Feel It: The Factory Rider said...

Did you seriously tuck your chip timing strap into your Capo sock? Way too pro dood.

MOD 2.0 said...

Yep, keeps it from getting snagged on stuff