Monday, June 30, 2014

CCCX 35+ 1/2/3s, Saturday, June 28th by Matthew Sloan

This was my best race by far on the CCCX circuit course. Not for the result but for the racing itself. I drove down with David Allen and his teammate and old friend, John Funke. John Funke, a former elite cyclocross racer (he nearly won nationals one year but was beaten by the flu!), advised me to race aggressively, so, I did!

I got into the first break with Kyle Glerum from Safeway but we were soon eaten up by the Peloton.  Nick Theobold from Safeway attacked when the Peloton bridged up. This was the winning break. I felt it would be. I attacked to bridge up but just didn't quite have it after my previous efforts. Stefano tried to bridge up too; however, even working together we didn't make it. I consciously dropped off the pace allowing myself to get caught by the second group. There were seven off the front in the break. When they started to get into a pace line, we just couldn't match their combined effort.

At first, some of the riders in the peloton worked to bring the break back. After a while, however, the group resigned itself to racing for what would become 6th place. On the second to last lap, with nobody wanting to pull up the rollers into the wind, a voice in my head cried out: "I paid $40 for this!" From the back of the peloton, I put my foot down on one of downhills, I used my momentum to sprint up the uphill. I went scorching down the main downhill to get clear of the peloton. At the very least, I wanted someone to have to make the effort to catch me. I was hoping David Allen or John Funke would bridge up and help bring back the break. Someone made an effort to bridge up to me but the peloton came with them. It was fun to be solo for just over half a lap. I eased up on the long hill and fell in behind the main group. My thought was, "let's rest up and practice my sprint." Even with the race finishing after the rollers, it is still a power finish.

With a half a lap remaining you would have thought we were out on a Sunday coffee ride. At that moment Michael Holt attacked hard. Apparently, he doesn't have a great sprint. Everyone perked up and rose to the occasion. Stefano went to the front on the rollers but didn't get away. It turned into a pack sprint. I chose a bad line on the right, I had to slow up as a rider drifted into my line. I only managed 5th in our group - 10th overall. If I had stayed on David Allen's wheel I would have got 2nd in our group. Never mind, better luck next time. Even though my finish didn't go perfectly, I have to say I really like where the race finishes now. It feels a lot safer!

I will be racing RedKite criterium this coming Sunday. I raced Burlingame last Sunday, 22nd but it didn't go well for me with the hairpin turn. Too much stopping and starting. Next Sunday I would love to podium! We'll see.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Sierra Historic Omnium June 14th & 15th by Matthew Sloan

Bite off more than you can chew and, suffer!

Saturday, 14th Folsom Criterium

Unfortunately, instead of being the downtown crit as advertised it was a weird business park crit. An out and back course with a roundabout at one end and a slight down hill hairpin turn on the other - nasty! I signed up for the E3/4s omnium which would include the Folsom Crit and the Nevada City Crit on the Sunday; and the 35+ 1/2/3s crit.

I drove up with David Allen and a couple of his teammates from San Francisco. I arrived with plenty of time to warm-up and ready myself for the 3/4s. We went off at a cracking, good pace. Due to the hairpin, wind, and roundabout it was very difficult to move up. With 7 to go I was able to start my move to the front. I finally felt good about the race - confident of a good placing. We came to the hairpin with about 5 to go. I came around sharply on the inside and sprinted hard to get to the front. As I passed a younger rider on my right, he suddenly moved into me. His handlebars caught on my thigh. He was thrown to the right, he then whipped behind me, hit my rear wheel, and went down. Amazingly, I didn't go down but a few people behind me did. Unfortunately, I ended up at the back of the peloton and didn't recover my position. The crash really wiped me out. David Allen told me I should have tried to take a free lap. Next time I will. It was really hard to focus and get back on after the crash. However, I soldiered on to the finish.

At 2:35 pm I competed with the 35+ 1/2/3s. The pace was slower to begin with, but boy did it hot up pretty quickly. I struggled to keep with the main group but I made it. I even took a shot at a breakaway with another rider but we were caught pretty sharpish. Folsom bikes were keeping the pressure on. They had a number of riders including two national champions. They were definitely out for victory. It was a hell of 50 minutes of sprinting from one end of the course to the other as we came to a virtual standstill due to the hairpin and roundabout. At the finish I did well to come in the top 20 perhaps 15, I have yet to see the results. However, I know that I beat a few cat. 1s and came behind a couple of national champions!

Sunday, 15th Nevada City Classic

This had the best atmosphere for a race I have experienced so far this year. There are people on every part of the course cheering the riders on. Regardless of whether you think you could do well here or not, I definitely think this is one race that is worth experiencing. Even though it is advertised as a criterium, being 1.1 miles long it feels like a mini circuit race. It is a course that favors climbers. Many of our climbers would do well at this event. The course stair-steps up to the top for about a 2/3 of a mile climb then sweeps fast down to the finish. After the start/finish, there is a long sweeping bend that takes you back into the stair stepping climb. 

I wanted to be on the front at the start knowing I would have trouble keeping up with the climbers. Unfortunately, due to a crash in the race before ours we were waiting on the sides for a while. During this time riders were sneaking into place. I ended up two or three back from the start line in a race of 70 riders. It was a hectic start. I didn't get a good one and found myself at the back of the first group. After a couple of fast and furious laps, I found my legs tiring. I just didn't have it. Frankie came past me on the climb and I urged him on. I think he ended up just a few places in front of me. I think two hard crits the day before wasn't the best preparation for this really hard race. However, the atmosphere and the need to prove myself over the course will bring me back again next year. 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Sunday, June 1st, RedKite Bump Race, Livermore by Matthew Sloan

This was a great course for me - a 7.5 mile loop with lots of nice rollers and a power sprint finish - up the bump! I couldn't have planned a better race tactically. After yesterday's efforts, I sat in on the main group doing as little work as possible. We were going hard enough that the race was split into two groups. There were a couple of attempts at breaks off the first group but they were swiftly brought back in.

On the last lap, I made sure I got to the front on fastest decent before the long, gentle climb to the top of the course. I tucked down and sped swiftly past the pack, including guys who were pedaling hard. Ah, the beauty of an aero tuck and a few pounds. I knew that riders would think I was making a move and ride to keep on my wheel or get past me. As soon as someone went past, I got on their wheel. Team Thirsty Bear were on the front putting on a good pace to lead out the eventual winner, Corey Scobie. I sat in about four places back. The pace steadily increased on the long, gentle climb towards the finish. I kept in a good spot knowing I would have to be in the top five into the last turn to have any chance of making the podium. With the centre line rule being enforced there wouldn't be much room to maneuver.

I came into the last corner hard in 4th/5th place. I got out of the seat and attacked following the example of Thirsty Bear Rider, Corey Scobie. I tried my best to get past the second place rider but I had chosen too hard a gear. I changed down and held on strongly for 3rd. A good race, with a respectable finish.