The VeloWorks-Spokes, Etc. team split the squad and traveled to the Miller School Road Race, the MABRA and Virginia Age Graded championship, in Charlottesville, Virginia and the Steel City Showdown criterium in Pittsburgh. The day before these races, Kaitlyn crushed souls in the Church Creek Time Trial, topping the podium in the Cat 3 race.
Miller School Road Race
At the Miller School Race, Bob, Belov, Major Tom and Mike lined up for the Masters 3/4 race of 64 miles. Bob would go one to place 5th in a field that have only 7 riders survive on the lead lap. This would be Mike‘s first race back since breaking his collar bone at Carl Dolan earlier this Spring. He was also recovering from a stomach bug and would gamely hold on for 2 laps before retiring. MT, would stay in the mix until the 2nd to last lap and Belov‘s race would be cut short by a tire puncture.
Bob‘s Report is below:
Strategy: Apparently the strategy was….”Don’t get popped”…this is going to be a race of attrition
The race started off with the 35 + OPEN and 35+ 3/4 fields integrated together. This would make it interesting to keep an eye on your fellow 300 series riders while reacting to the tactics of the 100 series OPEN field.
The first lap opened up with a rider from Haymarket charging off the front on the first climb…no one was concerned and he was reeled in unceremoniously on lap 2 on the same first climb.
The race remained fairly civil for the first 2 laps amongst the field and no real digs up the climbs. Although it did ramp up a fair amount on the long steady climb on the 3rd leg before the big descent(almost every time).
I took up a comfortable position near the front and maintained presence looking for anything serious that might happen. Each time that I was shuffled back some it was pretty easy to move back up the field at will due to the rolling enclosure (easier when it was slightly uphill). Took a minor flyer off the front on lap 1just to see if anything might happen – no interest from the group, so pedaled softly and reintegrated. Chased a few hard charges and went off the front again on lap 2 with the eventual winner – at that time it just didn’t seem like 2 riders were likely to stay off the front so I wasn’t motivated to work hard or try and make it stick. After this I settled in to see what the 100 series group had in mind. On lap 3 there was some fireworks – mostly initiated by Kelly Benefits and Antony Barsi. I could see it begin and realized that there was a “selection” that was about to happen. As we made the first right turn onto the 2nd leg of the course Barsi continued to charge up the hills and everyone that could followed – – riders were beginning to pop and slide off the back. I was able to make this selection easily enough and was happy that I was in it. There was also a group of 3 or so off the front at this time (maybe 4)…at the time I did not realize that there was one 300 series up the road…it was the small aggressive rider that I had been off the front with earlier…they had built up about a minute on the group. Coming into the feed zone for the last lap I was a bit worried as I had not spotted Leslea yet…but, as I approached the zone I saw both Carr and Mike with outstretched arms and bottles. I took one bottle from Mike and would later wish that I had taken both as I drained all water sources with about 10 miles to go….that last lap it was heating up significantly and 3 bottles was not enough. I made it about 4 miles into the 4th lap when I would lose contact with the group. My legs were starting to go haywire and I had to start riding within myself at a much slower pace. Two Battley guys had also sat up and started a chat and ride to the finish…at first I thought maybe I would integrate with them and get some help with the work to the end…as it turned out I was riding slightly faster than the duo, and went solo to the finish….4 guys in my field finished ahead of me in the break and the selection group, I took 5th and a trail of tears and popped riders was all that was left from there.
That was probably the hardest road race that I have ever participated in with the 1,400 ft of climbing per lap. I should have respected the climbing a bit more in order to survive longer in the race….and I learned an extremely important lesson in the feed zone. Live and learn. I did manage to add 2 more points to my upgrade profile and have 5 points to achieve before I can submit for CAT 2 upgrade.
Thanks again to teammates for FEED ZONE assistance and a great time the day before!
Steel City Showdown
In the Womens’ Cat 3/4 and 1/2/3 races, Kaitlyn was the #1 star for the team, taking home top 5s in both races.
In the Cat 4 race, Chris would make a late charge for his first top 5 finish as a road cyclist, but Brian would get collected in a tough crash late that earned him an ambulance ride and, eventually, a new helmet. Chris‘s report is below.
The Steel City Showdown is a 4 corner criterium located in Downtown Pittsburgh with a gorgeous back drop of the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball stadium leading up to the finish. Each lap takes riders over two bridges which dump them onto the streets of downtown. I lined up for the 4/5 race with Brian about 2 rows back from the front. We raced for 45 minutes on wide open streets with no center line rule. The race began with a neutral roll out for the whole field for one lap and at the crest of the final climb descending down to the finish, the pace car took off and the race began. The pace averaged 25mph with the first few laps stringing the field into a single file line. I took my time moving up with each lap until I settled into the top 20 riders towards the front. My goal was to use the climbs to move up and maintain a top 10 position throughout the entire race rather than exerting too much energy sitting directly on the front of the field or attacking until I was completely spent like I’ve done in previous races this season. A rider from a local team made a very strong attack on the back side of the course with 12 laps to go, and roughly 12 riders or so made a move to bridge up to try to get a break started. I followed the wheel of a PTS rider and got in the group which held a 6 second gap at best over the field. Within 2 laps we were all back together and the pace settled down until maybe 4 to go. With the pace ramping up, I used the steeper climb on the back side of the course to pass 2 or 3 riders at a time until I was sitting in the top 5 at the start of the bell lap. We made it through the second corner and began to climb up the bridge when the rider on the front moved to the left to try to get off the front. Rather than the next rider in line pulling through to take his pull, he followed the lead riders wheel and so did the rest of the group. I held my line on the right side of the road and looked back for a split second to see a pack of riders collide and hit the ground hard. I knew Brian was a few wheels back from me, and hoped he wasn’t involved. With the crash behind us, we took the right hand corner onto the final downtown street before the next bridge and began ramping up the pace. I took the final corner and began sprinting from the base of the bridge until I passed every rider in front of me and had a wide open road leading down the final descent to the line. I sat down in my saddle and shifted into a higher gear and pushed as hard as I could. I couldn’t catch the 2 riders in front of me and let up right before the line thinking I had solidified 3rd place. At the last second I noticed Chris from PTS slide just past me on my left and with his bike throw at the line, he beat me by the width of his tire. I finished up 4th and secured my first road podium spot. Brian suffered a concussion from his crash but no broken bones. He rode strong all day and put in a hard attack with 10 to go but couldn’t get any riders to bite. Had it not been for a poor positioning decision by a few riders, Brian would have been in a great spot to contest the sprint for a podium spot.
Women’s 3/4 and 1/23
Not being satisfied with at win at the previous day’s TT, Kaitlyn doubled up and raced both the 3/4 and 1/2/3 races. The 3/4 race would actually be the faster race with some showers affecting the cornering in the 1/2/3 field. She would take 5th in the 3/4 race and move up a step to 4th in the 1/2/3.
With Brian out after his crash, Sean and Chris were left to represent VWS in the Cat 3/4 race. From the gun, the race was fast and would eventually average a higher speed than even the Cat 1/2/3 race later that day. Both would gamely hold on as long as the could, but ultimately succumb to the aggressive pace and withdraw. Sean took some excellent highlight footage below.