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.
by Jimmy Davis, Jr
My race began last year. I learned a lot during the race last year and I did not want to make the same mistakes again. Also, I have been suffering from low back pain for several years which had been a limiting factor for me during races.
This year I decided to go get my back looked at and discovered that there were some issues with my back and I was referred to a physical therapist. This was a hugely important step as they really helped me with some core issues and weaknesses.
I also planned to ride the race completely different than I did last year. I would not go in any breakaways or find myself alone on the front. My plan was save energy, draft, be smart and stay out of the wind.
There were some things that I kept the same this year, for example, I still did a proper warm up on the trainer. Connor Johnson was holding a place for me in the corral so I wasn't worried about my start position. There were 1152 riders in the race!
The beginning of the race was pretty nice, not too fast, not too slow. I sat near the front for about 20 miles...there were plenty of folks willing to sit on the front. I was wondering if all the folks were going to be able to maintain the pace. I concentrated on staying within myself and tried very hard to be patient. This was difficult because on several occasions I wanted to take off.
It was not until we got to the hill right before Rancho Vistoso that things got interesting. I figured that someone would try to hit the small climb hard and someone did but was not able to sustain it. We mostly stayed together through Twin Peaks and Silverbell Road. However, we had a strong cross-headwind on Silverbell (my time was 20+minutes slower this year). We had some strong riders in our group namely, John Howard the previous land speed record holder at 152 mph, the current female land speed record holder Denise Mueller at 148mph both on a tandem, Connor Johnson director of the Speed School, Mike Kozda's, Julian Turner And Lorenzo Molteni.
At some point on Silverbell the tandem attacked the group but Mike closed it down. Mike, Julian and Lorenzo did a lot of work during the race and Lorenzo took some pretty long pulls into the headwind on Silverbell. I'm not sure what happened but we lost our police escort and ended up getting stopped at Grant Road. The traffic officer cleared the way once we advised him that we were the lead group for the 55 mile race. I continued to only rotate short periods of time during the race. One highlight during the race was passing by my dad's house and seeing him video tape us as we went by. He was yelling, "That's my boy, that's my boy!". I was really beginning to get encouraged at this point because I knew the race would come down to a sprint...my strength!
The final leg of the race is about .8 of a mile to the finish. When we made the final turn I wanted to be positioned close to the front about 4-5 riders back. Just as we turned for the last stretch Mike K. attacked. I did not chase because I had chased last year and I knew it was too far. I was pretty sure that John and Denise were going to gain speed and close the gap so I waited. Sure enough I saw them coming from the back so I got out of the saddle so that I could get on their wheel as they went by. Once they caught Mike I stayed behind them until they overtook him. At some point I became aware of Julian and Connor with us. Once I saw Julian and Connor start to sprint I went to the right (dodging a rider who was finishing from the other race). I kicked and just tried to hold on to the finish. Praise God I was able to hold on for the win!
The podium was an amazing thing. It was huge and they did a little interview on the stage. I also really love the Conquistador Trophy that they present to the top three racers in each distance.
I felt blessed to be there and I was really glad to have the opportunity to race with such great folks. I'm looking forward to next year! I know that there will be folk looking to get that trophy...I'll be there to defend!!!
Thank you to God, to my family and friend and also to our national and local sponsors!
Very honored to race with such classy guys as you see below