Monday, May 18, 2009

North Boulder Park Crit 45+

Race Report and Results: North Boulder Park Criterium, Boulder, CO - Vic's Espresso
Team members: Barry Messmer, Randy Gaffney, Jerry"Jet" Greenleaf, Burt Henry, Paul Mack, Steve Worley, Bill Simmons, John" J.T." Talley, Joe Paulson, and Mike "Spanky" Newsome.

Author: Burt Henry

Photo: Brad Wallace

Our day began with a meeting with Len an hour before the race. We were each given instructions on what our jobs were. My job was to be the last leadout man for Joe (going for 3 in a row at NOBO) if the race came down to a sprint, and Len wanted it to come down to a sprint.

I was nervous pre race. This was my first mass start race (except for a couple of hillclimbs) since July. Usually you might have to wake me up before a crit but this was different. We had practiced and been instructed by Len in several sessions back in March on how to control the end of a race and get the leadout right. We were shakey at best, but that had a lot to do with the 55+ guys. They were schooling us in those drills. This time they were on our side.

We had about 50 starters and the race took on a moderate pace the first lap. Steve came from near the back and flew up the left side of the island to easily take the first prime. I focused on riding my bike in a pack again. Man, I was pretty squirrely at times but I relaxed and got smoother. It was not very stressful. Len had instructed the 55+ guys to control things and for Joe and I to just chill in the pack.

There were no real breaks that went as the Vic's boys had things under control as instructed by Len. I really don't know much of the details as I was just focusing on relaxing back in the pack knowing our boys had it under control.

Then with about 20 minutes to go, chaos. Mid pack, a Mix-1 rider went down hard on the turn into the alley. He took down several riders. I managed to avoid the main carnage and landed softly in the grass. The downed riders cut the course back to the finished. I looked around, and 5 Vic's riders went down! Everyone looked OK except for Paul who had a bloodied elbow and knee.

We didn't know it, but later on the same lap another rider rolled a tire on the next to last turn. The marshall wasn't paying attention and Jet comes screaming around the turn and slams into the downed riders bike. According to the downed rider, it was a pretty spectacular crash. Fortunately Jet was ok after a trip in the ambulance.

5 laps to go. Time to wake up and race. I'm guessing there were 25-30 left in the main pack now. Len told us that this is when we need to organize. I decide to wait until the last stretch to move up.

4 to go and the pack goes left side at the island. I go right and easily move up right to the front as Jimi surges hard on the hill. We have a small gap. No way I'm working, but I will stay up here for the rest of the race.

I need to find JT. He is supposed to lead us into the alleyway last lap. In the alley with 3.5 to go I'm concerned. Jimi is riding tempo but it's not hard enough. If the front gets mobbed I'll have to keep surging to keep my spot and follow moves. Then as if on cue, Steve appears and pops in front of me on Jimi's wheel. Perfect.

3 to go, now JT arrives. Pefect. I know I won't have to worry about Joe finding me. He can work his way around a pack. Now we just have to stay up front.

2.5 to go. In the alley, a bloodied Paul arrives at the front. Tough dude. Steve is still up working with Jimi.

2 to go. JT does a great job at holding us right near the front for the next lap.

Bell lap. Steve has buried himself up front controlling the pace with Jimi. It's starting to bunch up near the top of the hill. We gotta go now. I scream at JT to go to the front. He was in about 4th position.

He accelerates and we overtake the front on the downhill going into the alley. We overcook the turn. We both have to do some fancy bike handling to not go down. I take a glance back and see Joe has lost my wheel but is shooting a gap on the right. I knew he would get there. We couldn't slow at all.

I screamed for John to drill it and drill it he did. We were smokin'. About 50meters before the end of the alley I screamed that I had it, so JT pulled off and I took over. Fast but not too fast through the chicane. Far right of the road and fast into the last turn. I looked back and saw Joe was on my wheel after the turn.

It was then seated as hard as I could go. There was a slight headwind. I had told Joe before the race that I wouldn't shut down unless I started slowing. He would have to go when he felt he could make it.

At the island, Joe jumped and immediately popped around me by a bike length. I hopped up and sprinted with him with all I had to hold that spot. With about 20 meters left when it was apparent Joe had it and I would hang on for 2nd, I pointed at Joe, then my chest, and then raised 2 fingers. Not premeditated mind you, but maybe I watch too much cycling on TV.

That was the most fun I've had on a bike in a long time. After the race Karl Kiester, one of the most accomplished and respected masters racers in the state, told us he had tried to move up on the last lap in the allyway, but it was impossible to move up because the pace was so fast.
Putting a damper on an otherwise stellar day, later I learned about Jerry's crash, and that Paul was taken down again at the finish and broke his bike. Also, Spanky fell in his second race of the day in the cat 2 field cracking ribs. Bummer. Heal up quickly. We need you guys back out there.

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