By Erik Didriksen | Jun 1, 2009
Race name: Wonder Lake Criterium
Race date: Monday, Jun 1, 2009
I'd waited until the last minute to decide to race Wonder Lake, and I'm very glad that I made the drive out there for the race. The course was easy to find, the weather couldn't have been more perfect.
When we arrived, I wasn't surprised that the course went through a residential area, though the mailboxes lining every street were a little disconcerting. No attacking in the gutter on this one! I took a preview lap of the course - smooth pavement, no sealant-filled cracks to get your tire stuck in, and a nice little downhill immediately before the finish. Despite all of these positive characteristics, I couldn't help but think that this course was quite narrow for the advertised field sizes. With the road as narrow as twelve feet(a guesS) between turns 1 and 2 I'm not sure what the officials would have done had the 4's field reached the limit of 100 riders - no way you could get that many out here without some carnage. With 24 starting riders, we still had a few issues but overall the 4's kept things safe.
In the past, I've had problems in staying at the front and have always been dropped. I knew that I'd be able to move around in the field since it was so small, so I allowed myself to move back and forth a few times. My track experience suits me well because I'm more comfortable in tight situations than I ever have been, but I found myself braking into turns several times and having to put considerable efforts in to make up for it. Backing off the brakes in lap four I found it much easier to keep my speed even and was grateful to keep my position through every turn.
Throughout the beginning of the race, I managed to stay in the top 10 wheels despite being on the brakes, but had been slowly drifting back. Around 10 minutes into the race, we came across the start/finish and a kid on a BMX bike cut across the course only feet from the lead rider. This really freaked a bunch of people out since we'd been coming through around 28-30mph, and many riders sat up. Capitalizing on this, a few people attacked, entirely mixing the field up. Within the next few laps, we came around turn 4 and got another "present" - someone had backed a white minivan out of a driveway and was sitting in the middle of the course as we came down the hill at 30mph right before the finish line. A rider yelled "we need to cool it a bit guys this is too much" and the race did seem to slow a bit.
Despite the general slowing, I wasn't interested in the probing attacks being thrown off the front by Bob, Dave and Tom so I allowed myself to drift back. The rubberband effect was noticeable but wasn't so bad because of the small field, but it was there. With the pace slowed, I moved up a wheel or two each lap to make sure I was placed well. Positioned in the middle, I noticed that people were starting to jockey for position, including the rider that decided to move up on my outside right before turn one. I felt handlebars in my hip, and noticed a mailbox coming up on my left so I took a quick glance - I heard a wheel rub and saw a flash of blue heading through someone's front yard. I pedaled HARD through turn one to distance myself from that lunacy.
With three to go and a predictable pattern of slowing/accelerating, I carefully chose my efforts to maximize positioning on the last five laps. Many props to the teamwork shown by Dave Dokko, pulling the entire field HARD and stringing things out for two or three solid laps. Sitting near the middle with with one to go, I made my move up the inside between turns one and two, then up the outside between turns two and three. I didn't make it up as far as I'd have liked on that last effort, but seeing four teammates ahead of me I knew that we'd have some good results on the day. Coming around the LONG outside of a sweeping turn four I put the hammer down, pushing my Tiburzi into a 38mph sprint and netting 10th place. Tom Briney closed a decent gap to take the top of the Podium, with Bob taking a respectable 6th place finish.