Monday, July 12, 2010

45+ North Boulder Park Classic

Four Real!

On July 10th, the annual North Boulder Park Criterium was held on the history-filled and tricky course in beautiful but toasty weather. Gary Mulder, Mike Newsome, Joe Paulson, Bill Simmons, and John Talley suited up in their blue kits to do battle on behalf of the Vic's Espresso/Peerless Tire team. The Blue Boys had owned this course for the past three years, and it was time to defend their turf. A quick pre-race meeting determined that their strategy would be to cover dangerous riders, look for promising break opportunities, and try to set up a leadout if the race stayed together for a field sprint. Gary declared that the signal that the race was heating up would be the sight of him being ejected from the pack, due to a lingering wrist injury and his recent return to racing.

The race got underway with the usual flurry of test attacks, but nothing really opened up until the prime bell rang, and there was a flash of blue as Gary blasted off the side of the pack in a clean escape. Contrary to his pre-race prediction, it was Gary putting the hurt on the field! With his teammates doing their best to slow pursuit, Gary nabbed the first of two primes he captured to demonstrate that he's back in a big way.

Meanwhile, Joe, Bill, and JT were covering attacks and jumping in moves, but nothing was staying away for long. With the countdown clock approaching ten minutes to go in the race, a rider who had escaped earlier in the race tried again, and dangled off the front. The move was looking dangerous so close to the end, so on the front straight Mike jumped hard after him. The move drew out three other riders, so Joe hitched a ride with them. Mike gave everything he had and closed the gap quickly, blowing past the fading rider before dropping off the front. The result was a promising break, but it seemed to catch the other riders from the other teams by surprise. Instead of keeping the pressure on, they seemed content to wait for the field, so Joe tried to re-energize the move with an acceleration.

There was no reaction from his companions, so Joe put his head down and kept going. Riding alone now up the rise to the start/finish line, Joe looked at the lap counter, pondered the big number 7 being displayed, and checked in with the engine room. The report wasn't good, so Joe decided to try riding with his brain instead. He eased up and reintegrated with the field in the alley, and tried to recover as quickly as he could while his teammates covered other attacks.

The lap counter ticked down to the final two laps, and the pack started to get increasingly twitchy, so Bill went to the front and asserted control, lifting the speed to discourage any more forays off the front. As the bell rang for the final lap, there was a surge up the hill, so Joe jumped around the outside and tucked into third wheel as riders fought for position to enter the alley for the last time. Once in the alley, the field surged again, and Joe jumped on the wheel of a Mix1 rider who took the front in an effort to lead out their sprinter.

Holding second position out of the alley, through the chicane, and approaching the final turn, Joe glanced back and saw Great Divide's sprinter Scott Soden on his wheel. Even though the front straight is long, Joe didn't want to wait for Scott or another sprinter to initiate the kick to the line, so he jumped as hard as he could out of the corner, opening a gap on Scott and the rest of the riders that he was able to hold to the line for the Blue Team's fourth North Boulder Park victory in as many years!

Photos courtesy of Jonathan Bartlett Photography;