Monday, August 22, 2011

Eriksen Cycles on the Road?!

This weekend was the Fort Collins cycling festival. Joel had two great races, and represented the kit with a near two first places. Here's his take on the weekend.....

Rocky Mountain Criterium 2-20-2011

After racing mountain bikes all summer I decided to switch it up and partake in some local road races. I lined up at 3:25 P.M. with the rest of the Cat 4 racers after waffling back and forth all day about racing. I took my Honey Stinger Ginsting gel right before we went off since I like the energy boost and the caffeine before a race. The race got under way and was fast right from the gun. The course was a flat and fast figure eight. I tried to place my self in the top third of the field while I bided my time during the first 15 or so minutes of the race. About 15 minutes into the race I tried an attack through the start/finish straightaway. No one followed me, but in standard Cat 4 fashion racers did just enough work to pull me back to the field. After a counter attack by a friend was unsuccessful I decided to attack on the back straightaway of the course. This solo break stuck for a little more than four laps before I was pulled back to the field after winning a prime. I felt fairly spent after my effort but sat in for the rest of the race until 1 lap to go where I maneuvered myself into about 8th wheel. Several riders opened up a sprint really early in the back straightaway and I found myself boxed in and unable to respond. About 100 meters before the second to last turn I saw an opening and opened up my attack/sprint since there were already 2 riders up the road. I was able to catch 2nd place with the field hot on my tail but was able to put enough power down in my sprint to hold off the field for 2nd place. Although it wasn't a win I feel good about my performance since I stuck with my plan and my aggressive riding animated the race (got some attention for our sponsors!). It was nice to represent Team Eriksen Cycles on the road and make a few dollars and win a lot of ride food in a prime.

Rist Canyon Road Race 2-21-2011

I decided to race the Rist Canyon Road Race even though I was sick since I felt that I had a legitimate chance at winning and had wanted to since the beginning of summer. I registered at the last minute (literally) and tried to get a decent nights sleep. Morning came and I toed the line with 61 other Cat 4/5 racers. We went off to a neutral start through Fort Collins and arrived at the first climb of the 66.8 mile race (with 6,114 feet of climbing!); the infamous Rist Canyon climb. I had intended to do a little work and drive the pace up Rist to force a selection, but I decided against this when I noticed a decent selection was being made without working too hard. I made sure to stay on top of my nutrition with lots of water/sports drink and my Honey Stinger Gels and Chews on the ~10 mile climb. I went over the top of Rist about 10-15 seconds behind the first rider with another rider hot on my tail. We worked together to pull the 1st place rider back while descending through the back side of Rist and Stove Prarie. Once we pulled that rider back I convinced both riders to work with me to put a gap on the field. We were pulling turns but I never felt that we were going fast enough to hold off the field. At about 38 miles into the race the rider that had went over the top of Rist first was spent and dropped off of my wheel and it was just myself and the other remaining rider as the lead group. About two or so miles later on a small kicker climb I noticed I was riding my breakaway partner off my wheel. I felt strong and knew that he would hold me back if I were to wait for him so I upped the pace and rode him off my wheel. At this point I knew that if I wanted a win I would have to give everything I had to stay away from the field since there were 25 miles left. I put my chin down on my stem and my hands as close to my face as possible and rode all the flat sections and false flat sections close to threshold. There were several short but not insignificant climbs left in Horsetooth Reservoir which I was fairly worried about since I felt like I might start cramping from going so hard for so long. I tried to pace myself up each climb as best I could and get as aero as possible on each descent so I could rest while I was spun out. I arrived at the last real climb of the day, Bingham Hill, and looked back to see if the field was bearing down on me but I saw nothing. I still wasn't ready to let up since there were still several miles of roughly flat road with a decent headwind left. Again, I got as aero as possible and gave it full gas, which was becoming hard to do since my arms were getting especially tired from trying to be aero for so long. I made the last turn into town and still saw no one behind me but I decided to keep my head down and hammer anyways for the few miles left to the finish section. The finish was essentially a reverse lap on yesterday's crit course and when I turned onto the course it started to sink in that I was really going to win. I turned the last turn and was glad to hear that Greg and a few other people I knew were there cheering. After zipping up my Eriksen Cycles jersey I sat up and spread my arms out to celebrate. It felt good to win a legitimate road race, but it felt even better to come in solo like I have watched some of my heroes do. After the results were posted I found out I had finished the race in 3:07:xx and had the second place rider gapped by 3:51. I believe after this weekend I am going to be requesting an upgrade to Cat 3 in both USAC and ACA. A big thanks to our sponsors for all the support, each of you make life as a bike racer/rider easier!

Next stop is the finale winter park race and perhaps the last mountain states cup!

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