Race Report: Cherry Pie and Bicycles Plus CriteriumPosted on February 13th, 2013 No comments
New Year. New Kit. Same Passion for Racing Hard.
Photos: Nich Barresi
This past weekend the men of SquadraSF, freshly clad in new 2013 kit, sporting SpyOptic Screws and armed with cases of Muscle Milk, ventured forth into the NCNCA in seach victory.
Straddling newly-built Felt FCs and rolling the latest Ritchey wheels and cockpits, the team was in fine form and eager to make good.
In the following, team members Chris Elbo, Alex Reimers and Matt Abdalah take us through the last, tense minutes of both the Bicycles Plus Crit in Folsom and the Cherry Pie Crit in Napa.
Bicycles Plus Criterium
Words: Chris Elbo
I suited up to race and immediately realized this was going to be another big team affair. Several teams with 4,5,6+ teammates were represented in the 70+ rider field.
(I’m noticing the Master’s racers show up in numbers and race with a plan, namely get someone away and block the heck out of everyone else. This race was no different)
Knowing that this Folsom course was wide open I figured it would be harder for any break to stay away so I decided to sit in and let the teams battle it out. I stayed in the first half of the pack keeping aware and just surfed it till the last few laps. This was when the team tactics really came to play. The big teams were all represented in 2s and 3s near the front. On the last lap, once they had their guy in the pointy end of the race (top 10), their teammates spread out making the wedge super wide behind. About 300m before the final turn I realized what the teams were doing and decided I had to go. I surged around the outside and had to power it to and around the turn fully exposed to get into the top 10. From the turn it was just a drag race to the line and in the scrum I was able to pass a couple riders who were going backwards…got a 5th.
Having had a taste of this race and the critical back stretch and last corner, I had a much better picture of how to race (the morning race was my first time racing this course). I noticed the teams were much smaller and figured there would be less blocking and that the usual E3 “attack all the time” pattern would take place. It did, which kept the pace high and things strung out except for the usual after-attack regroup. Fast forward to the last lap…this time coming through the back stretch I was able to stay tight in the slipstream as I charged up the inside before the last corner from just outside the top 10…was able to open up my sprint a bit more than the first race since there was more open space and grabbed 4th.
Overall, I got more comfortable with the elbow bumping and starting feeling better in the crit packs (trying to find that Mojo). So more results to add to my EB RR win…not a bad day at the races
Taking the lines I like I moved up and worked my way on the tight outside along the straightaway. Other Squadra members were moving up too and we were all keeping an eye on the front. A small breakaway starts to form of two riders, they are quickly caught half a lap later. I see Nick Kreeger moving into position with 3 laps to go. On the U turn he shoots off like a back out of hell taking the correct line that allowed him to maintain speed throughout the turn. A few riders push it to try to keep up but Nick is now on his way with a 10 second gap. Mario (correct me if I’m wrong and it was someone else, I’m not quite sure) and I keep towards the front in order to make a move if anyone tries to bridge up to Nick. Nick’s move lasts until about 1/2 lap to go. Although he was caught, a couple of us had very good position. I feel everyone bunch of a little as people were trying to save their legs for the sprint. At this point I’m deciding my move, resisting the urge to just pull a pre-emptyive jump and hope no one catches me on the hill. We go through the last little slight right, at this point a lot of riders were cut off because the course tightens up there. I made it through in okay position and quickly launched my sprint passing 6-7 riders. I had 3 riders in front of me at this point and I’m fighting for 4th. Just before the line another rider then Mario shoot up past me. Mario powers to 5th and I take a respectable 6th.
Cherry Pie – P1/2
Words: Matt Abdalah
I was definitely full of nervous excitement as I warmed up with James, Lee, Carmi, Eric, and Trevor. I wasn’t really sure of my fitness and how the race would play out. As the first race of the season I think it’s safe to say everyone wants to stay upright and test their fitness and luckily all of us did. So really I think this race was a success for everyone. I rode to the start and I couldn’t hear a single word of instructions the official was giving the field and before I knew it the whistle blew and the race was on, I didn’t even have a moment to get nervous so it was perfect It didn’t take long before I heard the first blowout of the race and people started colliding with each other. Something that makes Cherry Pie particularly exciting is the back section which snakes its way around the business park guarded by a flimsy string of caution tape that every year inevitably takes out a few riders. Lucky for me I missed this crash altogether and kept the rubber side down.
With two laps to go things started to become a blur and I went into 132 pound sprinter mode aka ludicrous speed (Here’s a link if you don’t know what I’m talking about http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w6wY-xqyw-I ). With one lap to go I split off from Lee and Carmi to find my own way up to front but I definitely waited too long. By the time we came out of the chicane I was about 20th wheel but manged to pull out some great up-hill watts to put me in 7th for the field sprint, still only 19th place on the day with the big break of 12 riding away from us all.
For the first race of the year I think it was a success and a lot of fun, last season I couldn’t even finish it!