Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Bazaar Road Race

Bazaar Road Race –
The Bazaar Road Race was the day after I put in a long and hard effort at the Red Bud. Back-to-back days like this will get me prepared for Joe Martin…I hope.

If you haven’t done Bazaar, it’s a rather interesting layout in a rather uninteresting section of Kansas. There are more hills than you get in most of Kansas, but it’s not really a hilly race. Crosswinds are usually a big factor, but we had almost a direct headwind one direction and direct tailwind the other. The course goes south for about 15 miles and then you turn around a cone on a narrow 2-lane road. Then you ride about 23 miles north and turn around another cone, and then you finish where you started. Most races don’t have a cone turn-around.

Our team raced the race in accordance with what the flyer stated. It had the Men Cat1 and Cat2 starting at the same time as the Men Cat3, but the prize money and places were listed separately. Unfortunately, this is not how the event was scored. Instead, they paid out the top 5 overall and gave an additional bonus to any cat3 riders that were in the top 5. Prize money doesn’t really matter to me. It’s a nice bonus, but if we would have known how they were just doing overall placements we would have raced it a lot different and I think we would have had better results.

Anyway…on to the race:

Something wasn’t right from the start. I just had a bad feeling about something. It started when we were on the starting line. An old man came through on his tractor yelling at officials that we shouldn’t be blocking his road (we weren’t blocking it – he had plenty of room to drive through). This happened one other time at the Chicago Inline Marathon a few years ago. The old man came back and crashed into the metal scaffolding over the finish line. He knocked it over and it landed on a few skaters which sent them to the hospital.

Just as we started the tractor came barreling up behind us…well, as “barreling” as a big tractor can go I guess. I was in the back and saw him coming up behind and looked at the guy next to me and asked if he thought we were going to get run down. I really didn’t know the intent of the old man, but luckily he didn’t hit anyone.

None of the teams wanted to work into the headwind. I think we were all waiting to throw it down in the tailwind/crosswind section to try to blow the field up. So, we had about a 10 mile easy warm-up. Finally Tulsa Tough threw a couple attacks and Jay Blankenship got a pretty good gap on the field. He was going into the headwind, so I didn’t mind leaving him out there for a while. We were going so slow the masters group caught our before the first cone. Brian was in front of the masters group at the cone, so he had a big lead on our group coming out. You literally have to slow down to a near stop to turn that tight and then immediately accelerate up to almost 40mph with the tailwind. If you’re in the back going into that turn, you’re going to be down by 15 seconds coming out.

Since Brian still had a gap and Tulsa was off the front, Colavita had to do some work. Once they caught Brian and he got back on my wheel I got up front and pushed the pace for a minute or so. We had a group of 4 split off, but I don’t think the other guys realized it as they didn’t pull through with much gusto. We were really going fast. Ziegler ran out of gears (I don’t think he had an 11) so we actually had to slow up a tad to keep him from spinning out. Eventually the group of 4 became 6. Three of the six were Undiscovered (two cat 2s and a cat3), one was Jay from Tulsa tough (cat 1), one was a cat 3 from specs (my old skating teammate Ryan who now skates for Bont), and a cat3 from VeloTek.

We pushed the pace for a while and got a pretty solid gap. A few guys were skipping pulls and the rotation wasn’t very smooth, but we kept pulling away. The Velotek guy wasn’t pulling through so I let Ryan (specs) and Ziegler get a gap on me. We thought that the cat3s were scored separate, so that’s why we really didn’t mind seeing two 3s go up the road, especially when one was on our team. It was probably too early for me to start those kinds of moves, but the Velotek guy got the point and pulled the other two guys back.

We all started cooperating again for a little while, but then it got sloppy, guys were skipping pulls, and somehow we got pulled back. I should have been more aware, because the break was really ideal for our team. 3 of the 4 guys we brought with us were in the break of 6. There’s no way we should have lost that.

The break got caught and I was in bad position for about a second. At that moment, Brian and Jay went again with another Velotek 3.

I sat on colavita and waited for them to bridge/chase but it never happened. I tried a couple times but Ryan was on my wheel EVERY time I attacked. Again, since I thought the Cat3s were scored separately I didn’t want to pull Ryan along with me without a Cat3 from my team. Especially since I knew I had a good chance to outsprint the other cat1/2 guys in the field.

In the lead break, Brian kept attacking the cat 3 Velotek guy to drop him so that the cat 3 win (which didn’t actually exist) could go to our team. He and Jay were also keeping it pretty slow in hopes that either Jay’s teammate Cailean or I would bridge up.

We were getting to a longish climb with about 10 miles to go and I was ready to hit it hard, hoping that I could finally get away with Ziegler instead of Ryan. Colavita had just started pulling hard coming to the base of the climb when I heard a horrible noise.

I don’t know what came first, the sound of an explosion or the skidding car tires. It was immediately followed by yelling. I looked back and saw a red car in the ditch on the opposite side of the road. People were screaming that “he got hit.”

When something like that happens, it’s not about the race anymore. Local racers are a lot like family. We spend every weekend together. We train together during the week. It’s a tight community. Just about everyone turned around to make sure he was alright before anyone even mentioned the words “neutralize the race.” I kept praying that whoever got hit was ok.

It could have been a lot worse. When I got back there Jack was already sitting on the side of the road. He was banged up, but he was completely coherent and I didn’t see any serious bleeding. Luckily a couple people had cell phones and called 911. The response time was very quick, especially since the race in really in the middle of nowhere.

The girl that hit him was probably in her 20s. She was just standing there not saying a thing. I didn’t talk to her, but no I wish I would have just to see if she seemed intoxicated. From what I heard after the race, she almost ran down another pack of cyclists earlier and 911 was already called twice that day to report her driving recklessly on the race course.

It was horrible, but it could have been so much worse. She could have easily taken out the whole group or killed someone. I didn’t bother looking at Jack’s bike, but somebody said the whole rear triangle was smashed and his back wheel crushed. That was the explosion. If you’ve never heard carbon snap, it’s not a pretty sound.

Once everyone was ready to ride again we got back on the road. For a while Cailean and I just set a steady tempo at the front. Eventually we did start racing again. By this time, the breakaway had shelled the cat3 Velotek guy, but we were stopped for about 5 minutes, so even though they were riding easy there was no way we could have caught them.

Ziegler was between the 3 man break and the main field I was in. With 1 mile to go, Ryan Westrup got up front and picked up the pace. I should have followed him, but it was early to be sitting 2nd wheel. I got blocked in on the inside when the actual sprint started. I had to give up about 4 or 5 spots in order to get to a position where I could move up. I was only focused on the other cat1/2 guys in the field at first. Once I knew I had them, my focus was on winning the field sprint, just for the practice. Ryan (specs) is a great sprinter, and even though I just about caught him I couldn’t come around him. We did put some good distance on the rest of the field, so I was happy with the effort, even if he did beat me.

I thought I would be considered 3rd for the p/1/2 race, but since they scored everyone together it was 6th. Parks finished 2nd overall. Ziegler was 4th overall but 2nd for the Cat3s.

RPE was pretty high compared to my numbers. I’ll blame that on Redbud. I’m ready for an easy day on the TT bike today.

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