After a practice crit or two, and some gravel shenanigans, a small group of the VeloWorks-Spokes, Etc. team made a trip down to Durham, NC, for the Bull City Road Race and Criterium on 2/25 and 2/26. Justin raced solo in both Cat 3 races whiles Brian, Andrew and Zach teamed up on Sunday for the 4/5 crit. Their reports are below:
Cat 4/5 Criterium
From Andrew McLaren
Veloworks made a strong showing down in NC this past weekend. The team executed really well throughout the race, navigating a new, challenging crit course with a two-step hill for where the start finish was, along with some short, quick left-right corners making a figure eight. Between coffee and burritos, we scouted the course a bit on Saturday. Between beers Saturday night we created a broad gameplan based on on what we imagined would happen with the quick turns hills and descents.
I was committed to redeeming myself after last year, which has been charitably called “shameful”. I became the A rider, Brian the B, and Zac(h) the enforcer.
As a team, we slayed it. Anticipating clipping-in issues, I outfoxed everyone by going immediately to the start line rather than take a recon lap. Fortunately, I clipped in right away and settled into the first few riders. Two riders sprinted off right away, and I made the reasonable decision to let them go (they ended up lapping the field in 5 laps, and have since received a mandatory double upgrade for that behavior).
As the race sped down a decent and through a quick right left, Zac pushed right in front of me, and led the way for the next 20 or so minutes. I followed his wheel through the pack in soft areas, and followed his line around the course. It was great to have a confident rider to sit behind, and even maneuver through the pack with, which I’m typically afraid to do. He went all out until he popped, keeping me in the top 5-10 wheels.
Mere moments later Brian replace him, filling the same role. On occasion the pack would get really soft, and we thought about jumping, but stayed conservative. With a lap or two remaining Brian put in a hard effort to push the pace, and placed me right in the first 5 wheels with half a lap left. I felt good and thought I had a plan of attack, but got surprised by a group that jumped on a soft corner. I hoped they’d gone to early and waited a second. This proved to be a mistake; I got boxed-in at the start of the final climb, and though I eventually pulled away from the rest, I couldn’t make up the distance in time. 7th place overall. The team executed really well, and it was fun to be a part of it, where we all had a role, communicated well, and ended playing a major role and blowing up the majority of the field.
Special thanks to my parents, who showed greater endurance than anyone in tolerating this lycra-clad bunch. Also thanks to Jack at Spokes etc, who found me the most visually impressive ride, to Anna tweaked my fit just right, and to Garrett who managed me and my various mechanicals like a pro.
Brian leading me up the second half of the hill, and toward Bull City Brewing.
Cat 3 Road Race and Criterium
From Justin Markunas
This ended up being a really fun racel. After struggling to clip in and almost missing the train, I got into the rhythm of the race which had 8 corners and a pretty good climb at the start/finish. Things got pretty soft and a guy went off the front about 15 minutes in. He was a really strong rider that animated Saturday’s race so I decided to bridge up to him. A third guy, a Cat 1 mountain biker who I’ve raced with in the past joined shortly thereafter (here’s a Strava segment this dude hit that left me speechless for the people who geek out on this stuff: ). This ended up being a great trio. Over the next few laps we opened the gap up above 30 seconds and were out of sight. As we hit the last lap, the truce ended and the other two guys began trying to play games to set up the finish. In the end, it didn’t really matter for me. I had cramping issues on Saturday night and my left calf balled up as we made the final climb to the finish. I decided not to contest it, and soft pedaled across for a somewhat anticlimactic 3rd place finish.
Looking back on the weekend, I had an absolute blast. It was totally exhilarating to be back out racing after grinding away so many hours at Z2 over the winter. Additionally, I was happy to do well at a relatively technical crit so early in the season. This was the kind of course I would have struggled on last year due to my lack of cornering skills. More importantly, I had a lot of fun outside the racing in hanging out with the other VWS people that came along. I totally want to thank Andrew and Robin for being our tour guides for the RTP area. I enjoyed every minute, minus the moping I did over my mechanical issue Saturday afternoon;)
Unofficial podium pic is attached for posterity.