2010 UCSC Pacific Grove Criterium
Pacific Grove, CA
Weather: Cool, windy
Teammates: Joel Robertson, Tim Granshaw, Graham Simpson
Placing: 1st of ~20
I’m assuming that most of you — at least, the subset of you who take the time to read my race reports — follow this list closely enough to have experienced “The Annual Alto Velo Apocalypse.” What is this apocalypse, you ask? I’ll elaborate.
Roughly once per year, one of the Category 3* riders accidentally sends a “tactics” email to this list instead of to his internal “Alto Velo Cat 3″ list. It’s the fault of that damn “auto-complete” function employed by most email programs nowadays, I presume.
Anyway, within minutes of said tactical disclosure, several concerned responses are posted to the list. “Egad! You’ve ruined our carefully-laid plans,” these responses invariably exclaim, “How are we supposed to execute our perfect leadout now that you’ve posted our tactics to the vast interweb? Don’t you know that there are non-Alto Velo members who read this list? We’re ruined!”
Every year, people. Every year.
My friends and I typically find these little email nuggets, forward them amongst ourselves at work, and titter like schoolchildren at our desks. You see, it is completely absurd to think that a) predetermined “tactics” have any bearing on what actually happens in a bike race, and b) that your standard, boilerplate “tactics” discussion is in any way novel or unexpected. You don’t think that every single Cat 3 club team is independently writing the same exact email thread, word for word, on their own list? Bike races are not won by tactical email masterpieces, they’re won by on-the-fly decisions and RAW EFFING POWER [cue monster truck rally announcer voice].
However, in order to drive my point home, I’m going to commence this belated race report by disclosing my secrets as publicly as I possibly can. Ready? (This could backfire, of course. If I never win another race, I guess you paranoid tactic-hoarders were right.)
I will always attack, and I will try to whittle any resulting breakaways to a manageable size. I’ve never won a race from a group larger than four riders, so I don’t really have much breadth. I’m a one-trick pony .
There you have it: my “plan.” It’s well-known by just about every P/1/2 out there, and it’s not about to change until I start climbing better or sprinting like less of a pansy-ass.
As an illustration of how carefully I guard my tactics, I showed up the the Pacific Grove criterium wearing a long-sleeve skinsuit, rolling on deep-section Williams tubulars, and running my mouth about how hard I was going to attack. When I show up to crits, I run my mouth more than a tipsy Billy Crane trying to impress a group of 19-year-old ladies. I’m an embarrassment to myself and everyone who knows me.
The gun went off, and JD Bergmann (Clif Bar) led the first half-lap around this short, technical, hilly criterium course. As we approached the first ascent of the power-climb front straightaway, I attacked with reckless abandon. I went solo for about five laps before being joined by Eric Bennett (Adageo) and John Bennett (Cal Giant).
The three of us threw ourselves into the task of lapping the field; we were a bit too anxious, however, and succeeded in lapping the pack less than twenty minutes into the race. “Let’s just sit on the back, drop off at the end, and sprint it out amongst the three of us,” we all said simultaneously. It seemed like a reasonable plan for a while, but we got bored really quickly. We agreed to attack again.
I attacked with glee, John seemed sprightly enough, and Eric seemed reticent; turns out, Eric had finished sixth in the Wente Road Race that very morning, so he was understandably reluctant to attack again. Happily rid of the best sprinter of the trio, John and I lapped the field a second time; we decided that twice was enough, and with one lap to go we dropped off the back in order to drag race like gentlemen.
I might take up match sprinting, because I love a good, head-to-head drag race to finish a criterium. [Because of the similarity between "John Bennett" and "JonBenét," I'm attempting to restrain myself from using the word "slayed" when describing the finish. I guess I'll go with "crushed," instead.] I crushed the two-up sprint to the finish line, and executed a classically styled “victory gesticulation.” There’s nothing salutatory about that.
Does winning a race against 20 guys count? Not really, but I’m what you might call a “bottom feeder,” and if beating 20 guys is the only way I can win bike races, I’m all for it. I’ll leave the Cat’s Hills, Burlingames and Giro di San Franciscos to all the serious bike racers out there.
Great riding by John and Eric…they both raced like animals, and I have to say, it’s awesome to race with other riders who are so committed to the break, they’re willing to lap the field twice. It’s like having a support group for breakaway addicts like me (or maybe it’s more like a crack den, I don’t know). Finally, my teammates Joel, Tim and Graham were instrumental in making sure we got away, so thanks to them!
Style: D (Given how frequently I’ve sprinted for town lines, my victory salute blows. Then again, so does my sprint.)
Tactics: C (First lap attacks NEVER WORK. EVER. Kids: do what I say, not what I do.)
Teamwork: A+ (My team works really hard to deal with my bullshit on a weekly basis.)
Finish: B (Only because of the second lapping of the field. Otherwise, it would have been a C.)
Overall: D (I actually referenced JonBenét Ramsey in a race report. Inappropriate.)
*I use the Cat 3’s as an illustrative example only. I’m sure other categories fall victim to The Apocalypse. Also…given that we use Yahoo lists, these errant emails might not be the fault of auto-completion, but might instead be an elaborate plan by the Yahoo Cycling Team to unearth the secrets to our club’s success!
Also…randmiller.wordpress.com. Everyone else is doing it.