by Buzz Wright
With the Tucson Bicycle Classic approaching, many of my teammates were focused on tapering/peaking for those races. While I'll race TBC and hope to do well, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to race 5 crits in two days.
San Tan Criterium (Saturday)
The course was a pretty cool figure 8-ish layout similar to the one at Valley of the Sun. There was some wind at play and the laps were long (over 2 minutes). I chatted with Lynn, Lonnie, and Kelly from Tolero prior to the race and we sort of planned out a few breakaway attempts. I didn't pre-ride the course so the first couple laps were spent trying to figure out what lines to take through corners and which side of the group I should be on to avoid the wind. My legs felt a little sluggish but I wasn't too worried. I went with Lonnie to attempt a break and we stayed away for a bit but were brought back.
I recovered and kept an eye on Lynn who was looking strong. Lynn and two other guys ended up getting off the front after a prime and it seemed to be somewhat sticking. I decided to bridge and when I reached them I yelled "let's go" to Lynn. We were able to rotate a couple times through but the other two guys didn't seem too interested and I was running out of gas. We were caught after a few minutes. I didn't have a great position heading into the final lap and ended up waiting way too long to start my sprint. I ended up getting 9th.
My legs weren't feeling great but I was able to stay near the front and move around well in the group. I didn't try to go with any breaks and didn't go after any primes -- just held on and waited for the finish. On the final lap I held a good spot but a huge surge came and my legs were just done. I pushed hard to finish strong but didn't have much left. Placed 17th in that one.
Hungry Dog Criterium (Sunday)
The legs felt better today and the course was less technical, just an oval really. Evan and his family were up for the day so I was much more motivated for these races. I spent most of the time in/at the front of the race and was in a decent position to take the second prime so I went for it. Got a decent gap, took the prime, and then soft pedaled to wait for the group because there was no way I would be stupid enough to try a breakaway on this course after racing twice yesterday and then still having two races later today.
"Hey! Let's go!"
Oh great, someone bridged up to me and wanted to try to stay away. In a split second I made the decision to go ahead and jump on his wheel and commence with the stupidity. So I did stupid for a couple laps, and each time it was my turn to pull I thought, "this is stupid" and of course I was right -- it was stupid. I felt bad for the guy I was with because he wanted the break to work and I was secretly praying that the group would hurry up and catch us so the pain could end or at least be diminished slightly. We were finally reeled back in after a couple more laps and I did my best to recover and stay near the front again for the finish. I was in a good spot for the final lap but didn't have much of a sprint. I was gaining ground on one guy but ran out of road, taking 5th. Evan took 3rd because he knows how to get on the podium. I haven't figured that part out yet.
Evan takes third!
The legs felt pretty good heading into this race. I stayed mid-pack for the entire race just conserving as much energy as I could, knowing that the 3/4 race was coming up next. With two laps to go I made my move up into the top 10 spots and then on the final lap I put in a hard effort and railed the final corner heading to the line. I passed a few guys in the corner and ended up right in third position for the sprint. I jumped hard but stayed wide on the swooping corner to the line, which unfortunately meant I had further to sprint. I could sense a guy coming up on my left and didn't want to cut him off and he was able to get by me before the line. He was wearing an ASU kit, which I believe is a high school up in the Phoenix area. Or maybe it's some sort of post high school college prep center, who knows. Anyway, so I managed to grab 4th in that one, slowly inching my way closer to that elusive podium.
Buzz oh so close to the podium
The legs felt as though they'd already done 4 races this weekend. Which is to say, they were toast. There were more than a couple times during this race that I thought about sitting up, but Evan was in it still so I was able to fight through it and hold his wheel. A break went and I remember looking at it and thinking about bridging up to it but decided that it would not last. It ended up lasting, but I doubt I would have been able to stay with it anyway. Near the end of the race the main group started trying to get organized to chase down the break but there were a couple guys who would not cooperate. I was red-lined for that entire portion and had to stop looking at my computer, which was displaying heart rate values in the thousands. I pushed hard to maintain a decent spot for the final sprint and ended up taking 6th in the pack, 10th place counting the 4 guys up the road.
Evan made brownies. Yeah, that's right. Epic brownies. I ate one. It was delicious. Maybe two. Oh... so good. Ok, maybe three. My legs were trashed but I was really happy with the results from the weekend. I was able to collect a couple envelopes with dollars in them, get a couple more upgrade points, and place top-10 in four out of the five races. And even better, I got to hang out with Evan and his beautiful family at the race and afterward for some food before heading back to Tucson.
Alright, maybe I had four.