The Bike Lane did a lot of racing this past weekend. Seriously. There was carbon, and spandex, and embro, and argy bargy, and climbing, and sprinting, and awesomebicyclefuntime. Lots of awesomebicyclefuntime. Under normal circumstances, we’d post race reports from Saturday, then from Sunday, and put the pictures up as they come. But this isn’t an ordinary circumstance.
On Sunday, 20 March Team Nature’s Path/3-Sports hosted the annual Richmond International Raceway Criterium. Pierce, Andrew, Bruce, David, and RJ caravaned south to line up for the cat 3/4 start, while Jason met the team at the track to add another race start to his roster for a 5 -> 4 upgrade. The 3/4 race, a 60 minute crit made unique by it’s effective absence of turns, promised to be all kinds of fast. With 93 starters – the biggest of the day – it also promised to deliver stiff competition. Backed by Bruce’s tactical knowledge, earned fighting his way to a 3 upgrade alone, the team lined up with a solid plan:
Wait. Don’t work.
Wait. Don’t attack.
Wait. The prime is for somebody else.
Wait. Don’t chase the breaks; they’ll come back.
Wait. 60 minutes will take longer than you think. Keep waiting.
Wait. Did you remember to wait?
The cool part: we followed The Plan. Anybody that’s ever lined up for a bike race knows that The Plan always falls apart on the road. The best teams react fluidly, adapting new plans as the situation demands. It’s a hectic, nervewracking game. Racers need strong legs, quick thinky bits, and a good sense of teamwork to be effective. A bunch of third and fourth category riders with nary a year of experience riding together hardly fits the bill. But it kind of worked.
Seven laps from the finish, the pointy end of the field populated with red, black and yellow Bike Lane jerseys.
All five racers survived 55 minutes of elbows and swerve. More of an accomplishment, nobody did anything stupid. Mostly. The water bottle prime was pretty important, after all. David pulled, Bruce pulled. RJ, then Pierce. Then the noise. 500 meters to go. The woosh-woosh-woosh-woosh of aero wheels nearing.
Crap. What plan?
Pierce had to turn on the gas early to keep the field from swarming and derailing the lead-out. Andrew took third as a direct result of the incredible effort of the team. A placing to be happy with, for sure. However, the more important thing, which everybody took home, was that The Bike Lane finally put together a road team. Big, uncomfortably close, sweaty group hug at the finish: lots of pride to have ridden as a team. Screw the 1 to 3 race/travel time rule. Richmond was worth the trip.
Jason took home a very solid top-20 finish in the Cat 5 race. The finish was notable, as the race had to be red-flagged due to a crash from the front. At least half the field toppled, but almost all were able to restart. While the mess was being sorted out, the clock kept ticking (due to track rental limitations). Jason hung on and dragged his legs, kicking and screaming, across the line for a very strong result. He’s going to make a great 4 very shortly!
It’s going to be a really fun year.