The Bunny Hop Race Report

Pro tip: “jump before the last turn. If you can get a gap, nobody will be able to close it on the final straight.”

Facebook tip: “due to a construction site on the inside exit of the last turn it’s not as wide as normal.”

No joke. The Bunny Hop crit is normally a straightforward 3 corner affair with bumpy pavement. But some places have different definitions for what constitutes a road, as evidenced by the school of cones massed around speedbump-sized pothole sealings and a large metal covering plate. The offending section of road meant that the otherwise wide-open turn 3 was reduced to the two outside lanes of travel. Technically, no big deal: the exclusion zone was off-line and very visible. However, the pavement was wet and extra room is always welcome. Several crashes occurred in that spot during day’s early races. Nothing nerve-wracking there at all. Really.

To the promoter’s credit, the hazard was well marked. They made the best of a bad situation. If bike racers maintained the roads, we wouldn’t run into issues like this. But they don’t. We should count ourselves lucky that we were still able to go out and race.

 Pierce and Andrew started the Cat 4 race; there although there were over 50 entrants, only 42 decided to chance the weather. The typical slow start was canceled when Jamey Lees from the Syn Fit race team attacked after only one lap. He dangled off the front, but was reeled back a lap or so later. Andrew countered to see what kind of racing the day would bring. At it’s largest, the gap was about 11 seconds, but the move only lasted for 3 laps. The remaining 15 laps ticked off without drama: the usual affair of attack, chase, pause characterized the race. With a couple laps to go, Andrew and Pierce moved to the front. On the last lap, just after turn 2, Andrew took the lead to string things out for Pierce.

The goal was to jump about 150  meters before turn 3 to get Pierce a gap and coast in to the finish. Unfortunately, Andrew suffered a mechanical that prevented him from standing on the pedals. The jump turned in to quick, traditional seated lead out. Pierce came around and, well, that was the race. Pierce took 1st and Andrew took 3rd. Another satisfying day of racing.
 
 

Men's 4 podium, L to R: Kimani Nielsen (Squadra Coppi, 2), Andrew Steele (The Bike Lane, 3), Pierce Schmerge (The Bike Lane, 4)

 

The Cat 5’s Eye View: how Jason Ray saw things early in the morning.

From the start of the day, I didn’t feel motivated to enter this race.  The day before was pleasantly spent with The Bike Lane at Cyclefest, but right before I left I was riding my bike around the Reston Town Center Pavillion and I fell (while on the bike) around 1mph due to my clumsiness.  I landed directly on the lower part of my right knee.  My knee was very sore when I woke up Sunday morning and felt similar to when I tore my cartilage in two places during my high school years.  I decided to warm-up and see if my knee was up to the challenge; it felt fine.
I warmed up, took a few laps of the course, and made my way to the starting line.  I knew the race would be fast since there were no tight turns and no significant elevation changes.  There were three (and a half?) turns, all fairly wide, but certain parts needed more attention due to a construction zone on the inside exit of the final turn, standing water at the outside exit of the first turn, and imperfections in the asphalt everywhere.  The crew did a fantastic job cleaning what needed to be cleared from the unexpected construction area and the subsequent flooding. 

Two laps into the race I made my way toward the front in the event a break-attempt was made.  An NCVC rider went out in-front in a solo-break-away andIi heard another NCVC guy instruct the other members (a lot of them) to not chase (which made sense).  I had a flashback from Meadows Farm when the front group stayed away, but I didn’t think the flyer would get away in this race.  Since i’m just continuing to learn in cat5, I decided I was going to try and chase him down, so I took the lead in the peloton and pushed until we caught up to him, dragging along the rest of the peloton.  Nothing much happend until, with nine or eight laps to go, another rider went for a solo-break-away.  He was caught one or two laps later, but as soon as that happened another rider flew off the front and replaced the caught flyer with himself.  Performed with seven laps to go, he held it and was not caught. He stuck the finish just ahead of the peloton sprinters on the bell-lap. 

I stayed mid-pack until the final lap and started to make my way toward the front.  Slowly passing people, I was able to see myself as the fifth or sixth wheel going into the ‘kink’ in the back section.  I pushed hard, but I was pegged at just over 200bpm ( i shouldn’t have looked down at the Garmin… ).  Going into the last turn I was about the tenth wheel, but i sat-up short of the finish and lost two positions for twelfth place (out of 45 or 50 riders?).  Overall I’m pleased with the performance, but I learned a few things:  it’s not worth chasing down a flyer (yet), don’t look at the computer on the last lap, and follow through on the finish.

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