by Michael Hast
Men Cat 4
he first day of the Crit-Mas Series was a very windy one. The temperatures were quite different from El Tour de Tucson. I think winter starts now ;-) When we setup the venue, I wasn't quite ready to race. I was quite busy with learning how to setup and work the registration for our event. Right around 11 am everything with regards to registration calmed down and I felt this was a good time to warm up for the Men Cat 4 race. I got myself ready and before you know it, without a real warmup, the race started promptly at 11:40 am. We had a group of 13 racers. Because I rode without teammates and wanted to save some energy for the Men Cat 3/4 race, my strategy was to stay with the pack and watch out for any breakaways. I attacked a few time during the race to see how the group would react, but found myself very fast back integrated into the group. The strong headwind didn't help with any breakaway efforts. With 2 laps to go, Lynn pulled away and his teammates blocked for him. That was my cue to move up in the group to 4th position and when we turned the corner into the headwind to attack and bridge over to Lynn. Now there was only 1 lap to go. I passed Lynn and pressed on, trying to increase the gap to the group. On the tailwind side, I tried to recover as best as I could with my legs screaming at me. I had to save a little for the couple of 100 feet against the wind to the finish line. I was first through the last corner, but Dustin "dusted" me right before the finish line and took 1st. I came in 2nd with Chris finishing 3rd. I was very glad and hoped I had some left to race with Buzz in the Men Cat 3/4 race.
Men Cat 3/4
I thought Buzz would join me in the Men Cat 3/4 race, but he said his bike needed some rest and didn't even bring it to the venue. So I race again without teammates. My strategy was pretty much the same as before: initially try to conserve energy and make my move when a breakaway forms. I watched the Men Cat 1/2/3 race where Jace and Johnny from the Bicycle Accident Attorneys placed 1st and 2nd. Those two were the guys to watch for. The race started pretty casual without any major surges. Riders tried to find our other riders strength. At one point Jace attacked with the wind and had a pretty decent lead. When we turned against the wind, I attacked and bridged over to Jace. We started working immediately. For the next couple of laps our lead was only 5-7 seconds. We switched the lead every half lap, Jace pushed hard against the wind and I hammered down the trail wind stretch. Jace's teammate worked for us in the group trying to slow them down as best as he could. After about 15 minutes that payed off. The gap increased to 30, then 40 and 50 seconds. After it was clear that the chasing group could not catch us, they re-grouped and started to strategizing for their final lap and their sprint to the finish. We kept the same pace which enabled us to catch and pass the field. I know now that I should have not passed the field but rather keep a safe distance with Jace and prepare to just sprint against him. But I was so exhausted that I was ok with placing 2nd and didn't want to fight it out in a sprint. Jace deserved to win because he did so much more work than me.