by Michael Hast
I raced in 3 crits, Masters 40+ Cat 4/5, Cat 4 and Cat 3/4. Together with Gary, Ken and Greg, I raced in the Masters 40+ Cat 4/5 crit. It was the most comfortable of the crits for me because the speed was lower and the field was not as aggressive. My goals were to lead Greg out for a prime and to lead Gary out for the final sprint. There were 3 primes during the 30 min race and the first 2 primes were won by riders who separated themselves from the pack laps before the prime was announced and won. Nobody wanted to chase them down at that time. However when the last prime was announced I happened to be at the front of the pack, praying that Greg would be within the top 10 to be able to make is way up to the front to participate in the prime sprint. I led the pack for 1/2 a lap and then let off the pace for most of them to pass me, thinking that Greg would be with them. That worked out great. Fast forwarding to the last laps, I again was in a good position and moved towards the front to be in control of the lead out. Unknown to me Gary was to the right of me when the last lap was announced before the turn into the final lap. So I wasn't sure who I am leading out, but took the lead position and gave it all I got. I was again passed before the finish line, my work was done :-)
Michael pulling at the front of the pack during the 4/5's
Then came the Cat 4 and Cat 3/4 races and the speed and intensity increased. In both races it took me a while, almost half of the race time to get comfortable. The plan for the Cat 4 races was for Buzz to attack a couple of times and win a prime, and for Buzz to lead me out with 1 1/2 laps to go. The plan for the Cat 3/4 race was to hang on ;-). During the Cat 4 race I discovered that riders would leave the inside of the long right curve open for riders to pass. I used it a couple of times to move up in the pack shielded by other riders. The first couple of primes were won by individuals who again attacked the pack long before the primes were announced. Way to go Buzz! So the pack didn't really chase down those riders. When Buzz attacked and won his prime, all I was thinking, I got to move up front to block. How can I block?!? But Buzz's attack gave me the chance to move up to the front. Towards the end of the Cat 4 race, I moved up to the front, trying to chase down Kyle and another rider and maybe stay away with them. But Kyle and the other rider stayed away too long and didn't want to work at that time. When the last 5 laps were announced, I was up front, and all I could think of, where is Buzz, he was supposed to lead me out :-) But Buzz was way ahead of me and moved quickly to the front. Buzz put down an enormous amount of power leading me for about 2 laps, and turned it over to me with 2 laps to go. Well, I was able to lead for one of those laps, but didn't have enough power to finish the last lap in the lead. All in all, it was a very successful race. The Cat 3/4 race got very intense and aggressive towards the last couple of laps which resulted in a crash in the last lap. I was once forced off the road into the dirt. Praise God, I stayed up and was able to get back on the road. After that I really had no will to sprint with these intense riders.
Michael gaining confidence during the 5's