Big Congrats to SLMer Andrew for notching his first win of the year! Its never too early to get the year started off right! Below is an edited version of his race report, you can read the full version (it is highly entertaining) on his blog here: http://upandandrew.wordpress.com
The Race Report
January 12th, the soft opening to the 2014 race season. Kit and I decided to mix up our Arizona traincation (we earned it) with a bit of good ol’fashioned, American, nacho cheese flavored, light beer drinking, folk song singing (?) criterium racing. The Not so Underground Criterium (1st event on the Arizona Road Calendar) promised 1,000 dollars 10 deep and an absurd amount of primes. Our plan, to make as much money as we possibly could. Our solution, form a secret alliance and help each other make as much money as we possibly could (repetitive, maybe edit out second make as much money as we possibly could.
The official shouted “Go!” or “Start!” or “Brown sugar blueberry pancakes!” the exact details are fuzzy but no matter her exclamation the field pushed off, clipped in, and began our neutral lap behind two tons (too much?) of American muscle. The neutral lap launched the field into a very civil first mile. Every muscle fiber in me wanted to jump, attack, get the race going, but the little grey cells reminded me to be patient, race smart, someone will get this race started. And soon, someone did (nice work little grey cells!), the first attacks went and where chased back. More went and more where chased back (ahhh bike racing…can you smell it? It smells like burnt carbon brake pads and chamois cream, delicious.) I focused on staying in the top 10, out of the trouble which so often strikes the first race of the year and in good position to chase down some money, I mean primes.
Ten minutes gone, the announcer announces the first $50 prime. We go around the first corner and Kit lets me know he’s right on my wheel. We’re sitting 4th and 5th in the field. Perfect. 500 m to go. I jump hard, Kit is right on me. We go around the 3rd and 4th corner. Kit shouts we got it! I look back and sit up, plenty of space between us and the field, Kit rolls through to take the prime. “And he stops pedaling giving up the prime for the long haul?” The announcer is confused by our tactics. Little does he know, the only two racers from Colorado are working together (despite our differing kits) muhahahahaha. The announcer may not have picked up on our alliance, but the field had. Kit and I dropped back into the peloton knowing our cover was blown.
Time passes quickly covering wheels and conserving energy. The second $50 prime came and went. An early lead out and miscommunication, we missed it. The volatility of the field was increasing. More attacks, more aggression, more surging and swarming. The third prime, I was badly out of position. Kit’s was slightly better but it would be a hard fight. I watched in awe as Kit ran down 3 riders, pipping the final racer on the line (to which our frustrated opponent countered with an “Explitive you!”).
Twenty minutes to go. At the announcement of the final cash prime a group of 3 attacks up the climb. I chase and latch onto the back. I think only of the prime. With 500 meters to the line I mash on the pedals. I look back after the 3rd corner, gap. After the final corner, gap. I sit up and claim the prime. The group of 3 catches me on top of the climb. We still have some breathing room. Could this be the move the peloton lets go? Four riders, 15 minutes left? Sounds reasonable. Why not? We’re rotating through well. “Nice and smooth”, “Good work boys”. Five laps to go, the gap is out to 20 seconds. I still don’t believe it, “Come on guys, let’s do this!” Two laps to go, 25 seconds on the field. This is happening, you better win (“Tell Andrew, don’t forget to win!” Kit shouts to Amy and Abby). One lap to go, I pull off the front and slot in third wheel. I’ve been here before, Bannock Street Criterium 2013. I lost then, but I know what I need to do now. 500 meters to go, I hit the pedals as hard as I can. Around the third corner, keep pedaling. Around the fourth corner, keep pedaling. 100 m to go, look back, gap. 20 m to go I put my hands in the air like I’m a bank teller under duress or more accurately like a bike racer winning a bike race.
Congrats all around to my breakaway companions and big smiles as I tell John and Kit the good news. It’s not often things go according to plan in bike racing, but January 12th was just about perfect. It was my first race of the season, first race with Team Rio Grande, first Pro 1/2 win, and hopefully the first, first of many firsts to come in 2014.
Kit and I had some time to reflect on our race between collecting the prize money and riding home. There was a good bit of shock at a plan so well executed, but we always knew we could do it. At the start line I asked myself, can I win today? Of course I can.