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Here we go again

By Luke Seemann | Mar 16, 2010

Race name: Kenosha Velosport Training Criterium
Race date: Sunday, Mar 14, 2010

The Kenosha spring races used to be a much bigger deal. Now we have a lot more spring races to look forward to and the Kenosha turnout seems down. That’s too bad. It’s still a good series, only about an hour from the city, and the course is a good, safe one for beginners. For more experienced racers, it’s a good chance to get reacquainted with all the rituals and processes—the packing, the warm-up, the tactics, the mechanics of sprinting—that will be as natural as breathing by July.

There are always new faces and teams this time of year, and not everyone has the uniforms to reflect their transfers. When I registered, I took note of the two riders ahead of me who appeared to be buddies but who were wearing generic kits. Better keep an eye on them.

I also took note of Tim from Trocadero. He’s always been a strong, aggressive rider. Sure enough, he attacked on Lap 2 and I jumped with him. Unfortunately I was a split-second too slow and lost his draft. By the time I caught him a lap later, the pack was on us—and here the two buddies from the registation table counterattacked together.

“I think those two guys are teammates,” I announced. Afer all, there were only 13 of us in the race and all of us were riding solo. Having a teammate—especially incognito—could make or break the race.

Tim and Chris from ReCycling soon set off to chase. The remnants of the field rotated well enough, but I could tell that only a few people were invested in the chase. With four people already up the road, we’d never have a chance, so I attacked the next time we approached the tailwind.

(The trick to attacking with a strong wind is to attack near the end of the headwind section or in the crosswind. Attack directly in the headwind and you’ll get no gap; attack with a tailwind and the herd will easily jump with you. Find the spot that is close enough to the headwind that people are thinking “Blargh, bike racing is hard!” but close enough to the tailwind so that when you hit it you can hammer and get an exaggerated gap ... but save enough so that you can keep it up for a lap. That’s important. If you can maintain or grow your gap for one entire cycle of headwind/tailwind, the pack may lose hope and you’ll be gone for good.)

A Geargrinder rider came with me and it wasn’t long before we caught Tim and Chris. For the next 30 minutes we rode around in circles. Even though we worked well together and eventually lapped what was left of the field, we never came within sight of the original breakaway.

With one to go I put in an attack, but I didn’t commit and got no more than a feeble gap. Then it was time to sprint, an eventuality I totally forgot to prepare for. As such I was overgeared and poorly positioned. Naturally I came in last in our break, 6th overall.

Nonetheless, a fun start to the season.

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