Nick, Owen, and I headed to Wisconsin to race the Matt Wittig Memorial Criterium cat 4/5. We knew that our collective strengths would suit us well in a crit that features an uphill finish. William's report detailed his win last year and and that was our inspiration to win the race again.
The 40 minute race starts off on an uphill - a one of a kind dynamic for races that I have done. The pace for the first half of the race was flat. There were no real attacks and the pace wasn't hard enough to lose anyone who might contend for the win. There is a 90 degree turn at the bottom of a downhill section that seemed to make everyone want to grab a lot of brakes. With 3.5 laps to go, I drilled the downhill and the turn at 33 mph. I looked back to notice that I had a gap. I expected that this would inspire the group to accelerate and become more aggressive. There was minimal response from the group so I went on a solo breakaway. I wouldn't touch my brakes for the rest of the race.
When I started to make my move, I didn't actually think that I could hold off a field of soon to be inspired racers for 3.5 laps. I knew that I had two outstanding teammates who would control any moves made to try and catch me while waiting to attack in the event that I was pulled back. My job was now to make sure that I wouldn't be pulled back. Over the next two laps, my gap hovered at around the 10-15 second mark over the field of 40.
The bell rang for the final lap and I continued to fight. At this point, I had no intentions of allowing my teammates to counter my move. The race was mine for the win. I pushed hard over the hill, through the flat, down the hill, and through the turn. On the final uphill to the finish, I looked over my shoulder and saw the approaching field. I pushed the pedals for a few more hard turns and knew that the win was mine. I rolled into the line with a 5 second margin.
Not until after the finish line did I find out that Nick and Owen crushed the field on the final uphill to round out the podium. We took 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in the race. Not bad for a team of three that was looking for a good day. This was one of my proudest days on a bike.
A long term goal of mine has been to get a cat three upgrade on the road. The win put me over that hill. Now onto those goals that lie ahead...