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Slop

Team Bikeman - Race Reports

This season has been a weird one. I’d planned my season in the summer: get the best results, meet family requirements, and to manage my USA Cycling points for a good placement at the start at the end of the season. With the mid-race halt of the Ann Arbor race due to hale and thunderstorms, then the cancellation of Mad Anthony literally last minute due to archeological findings, I was short on points. Last weekend I traveled to Ohio for a decent performance but this week was my best opportunity for scoring high. I entered the open 3’s and a largish 70 plus field to gamble for the points available.

The location was awesome and based at an old velodrome in Detroit, not a neighborhood I’d ride my bike after dark perhaps, but today was perfect with hundreds of your closest biking buddies. The week prior had been rainy. It was mild. I was ready. It was sloppy.

I got a better call up than I expected, in row 3, and with the mud rampant on the course I needed a good start to assure that errors from others were behind me. As scripted, I fought for every opening, every hole, and found myself in the top five or six and rubbing elbows in the turns holding my position. The uphill start, looping downhill, run-up, circle of doom, and portion on the velodrome went as planned by maintaining my position and staying calm. The first kid was way off the front by now, but I was still in touch with the others and using my power to mash through the various areas of swamp along the track. As we completed the first loop, the finishing straight was the worst on the course with the muck swamping my 38mm Carver hoops. I continued with the power as my wheels spun and knew this would be a key section come the finish.

It was an interesting course. One side was bone dry and fast, the concrete velodrome even faster with the banking to provide even more, yet other sections where 400 watts moved you at 3mph! I slowly made my way though those ahead of me into fourth. While my Kona Super Jake was caked in mud, I decided not to make a bike change onto my singlespeed in the pits, while a couple ahead were doing frequent changes aided by their crew. With one lap to go during one of the changes, I moved into third, and on then into 2nd. My calm, controlled approach was working. Commentator for the day, Frankie Andreu, had made a big deal of the move as I passed with “one to go... one to go”. With others breathing down my neck around the course and into the final section, I made an error that haunting hindsight illustrated as I relived the race on my drive home. As everyone battled the final piece of swamp, my bike, heavy with mud with tires and cranks barely turning, I should have got off and ran. Instead, I stayed seated and the two behind made their move on their clean bikes and lighter build. With 100 yards to go I relinquished my second position and slipped to fourth - but a good lesson learned with State Championships coming up next weekend: RUN!

I destroyed the other Masters athletes in the race on the day, mixed it up with the youth in conditions that I don’t experience very often, and frankly don’t enjoy. Sunday will be a total bike rebuild. Next up States...

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