Tuesday, September 2, 2014

NCNCA Masters State (District) Criterium Championships, 8/31/2014

By Dennis Pedersen

Though I had not even finished the championship road race at San Ardo, two weeks earlier, I had done quite well in the first lap. So I was confident I'd be able to do well in the championship criterium, in the 50-54 age group.

The crit was just 50 minutes long, on the usual flat, four-corner course in a business area of Pleasanton, so about the same as one lap at San Ardo, minus the  hills. Plus, I had an extra two weeks of training to target it (still not nearly enough). My coach, Jeff Solt, did his best to accommodate my crazy plan to line up against 35 guys who train for this stuff.

Margaret went with me to the race; what a cool woman! She cheered from the side on every lap, whether I was off the front or drafting at the back. And I did a lot of both. I was alone in the race so it was really up to me to make sure no breaks got away. We did chase down all the early breaks, but it was draining. I was happy with how I felt, though I had to be careful not to work too hard, as I'd need some reserves for the finish. 

With a few laps to go two guys broke away, but I kept an eye on them and later saw that one of the guys drifted back into the pack; I think it was Dan Smith or Don Langley (Morgan Stanley). I couldn't tell if anyone else was still ahead, but when our pace slowed I thought we'd caught them. 

It turned out Daniel Shore was still off the front, and he won, solo. In the meantime, on the last lap, I was stuck behind some wildly gyrating riders on the back straight who almost took out several guys. As a result I could only safely move forward on the straight before the last turn. I did that, but as I tried to sprint to the finish line I was forced up against the curb by a rider from SJBC. I had to slow, and had to settle for 12th place

My biggest mistake was to not be further forward before the back straight, though, again, I had to be careful to keep some reserves and doing that might have drained them. It's hard to judge how hard to work while still being fresh enough for a final sprint. You have to trade off some energy for a good position.

Drafting a bit, in my blue aero helmet (photo by Mike).
Oh well, I really wanted to win a State Championship jersey. Though I got one already it's a very humble one in track team sprints... nowhere near as prestigious. At least I rode pretty well, and had a really nice lunch afterward, with our friend, Carole, joining us! 

Next year I will still be focused on track sprints. Ciao! 

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