Saturday, 23 April: The Meadows Farm Circuit Race. RJ, Pierce, and Andrew racing 4, Jason Ray racing 5. 1.4 miles of racing surface. One short climb, 9 90 degree turns, and heavy winds in the only area that could provide rest. The finish was 200 meters out after a left-right double 90 degree chicane. Billed as a circuit race, it was really a lot like that kid in high school who was driving before everybody else and smoking in the parking lot: an overgrown crit. The 4 field would complete 21 laps (30 miles).
Reports from other races over the day indicated that a break was likely to succeed – with that many turns, who would be surprised? – and a good starting position would be important. Into the final chicane second or third wheel on the last lap would secure a good sprint position and a chance a crossing the line first. There would be no primes, and thus none of their unpredictible havoc.
From the start of the 4 race, the pace was high. Things were not so fast as to blow apart stronger riders, however tailgunners often found themselves sliding off the back. The peloton shrank steadily, but never accelerated heavily or dropped off the pace. As a race with so many turns could go, everything progressed smoothly. 2 laps to go found a breakaway of, potentially, six riders off the front. They didn’t attack, so much as it appeared that somebody let a gap open and inattentivness allowed it to spread. The timing was impeccible: lapped traffic made it almost impossible to determine where the front of the race really was.
After a brief but highly informative confab with the field, Andrew recognized that enough riders had gotten away to jeopardize Pierce’s chance of bringing home upgrade points. Pierce had also seen the threat, and followed Andrew as he moved to bridge. When the leaders crossed the line for the bell lap, Pierce was in contact with the front. Unfortunately, Andrew’s move left nothing in his tank to hang on, and Pierce had to face the finish without a teammate. Better than nothing, but, unfortuantely, not executed as accoridng to plan.
Pierce’s position heading in to the finale was textbook, but two riders kicked early enough that they could carry substantial speed through the chicane. Smart tactics put them in 1st and 2nd; Pierce regrouped and filled out the podium for 3rd. When the dust settled, it was a very solid day of racing with a great result. And more points, to boot! From more that one rider’s perspective, this may have been the hardest crit, er, sorry, circuit race of the season thus far.
A Cat 5’s Eye View: By Jason Ray
The mens cat 5 race was the first of the day at 8:00 a.m.; it was cold and wet from the previous night’s rain. Unfortunately, I found my self at the back from the start because the guy gridded in front of me was unable to clip-in. I had to unclip with both feet… horrible start. I made my way forward, but the tight corners created enough seperation for a front group of about 9 or 10 riders to get away 3 laps into the race. They increased their gap ever so slowly. Leading the front of the peloton were 2, sometimes 3, Richmond Velo Sport (RVS) team members. Every attempt to close the gap by non-RVS riders was futile since an RVS member would eventually take the lead and slow the pace enough to disrupt the effort. Whether this was on purpose or accident, it was great blocking by RVS, since the peloton never caught up to the front group.
There was a small ‘hill’ on the course that, surprisingly, gave some riders trouble. I should have attacked more since it was quick and could have made a small break with other riders. I made an attempt with about 3 laps to go, closed some time to the leaders, but was brought back and led for most of the lap. I couldn’t sustain the lead, and I fell back into the pack. I found myself at the front with 1 lap to go…not the place to be. I fell back into the pack on the downhill section and held my position a few wheels from the front of the peloton, held my line in the final corners, and sprinted to the finish. I was marked with an 11th place finish, but I’m pretty sure it was a few spots back. Overall it was a lof of fun, a great race, and was on a fantastic circuit. I just wish the weather was better.