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Scott Blakley: Colorado Springs Classic Crit Race Report
Colorado Springs Classic Crit race report:
Since I was heading down from Denver for this race, I wanted to give myself plenty of time to get there, register, and learn what I could about the course before the race. Luckily I didn’t hit much traffic, and had just the right amount of time to get ready. After I got registered, I went and watched one of the collegiate races. I had read that there was a 180 degree hairpin turn in the course, and I was very interested in seeing it. The 180 was the first turn after the start/finish. After watching the riders maneuver that corner, I figured that it was going to be a make it or break it corner. I know that every rider after the leader has to break more and more when going through a corner, and that a 180 would compound that problem. I knew that if I was jumping to catch riders in every lap, I would get burnt out. I made the decision that I had to get to the front of the race from the get go, and stay there if I wanted to be part of the race. As Adam always tells me: position, position, position. I had found a great place to park that had some shade, and there was a perfect place for my trainer where I could see the race go by. After stretching, I hopped on my trainer with the plan to get off the trainer 10 min before the start of my race. The warmup felt great, and my legs were feeling ready for a race, even though I had pushed a little hard on a race the day before.
With 10 min to go before my race, I got off the trainer, changed out a wheel, put some sun block on, and headed over. By the time I got to the start, riders were already lining up, and in some places were already three deep. Luckily I noticed an open space on the right of the line in the front. I swooped in and got my front line starting position. The race was a 40 min mixed Cat 4/5. The official came out and told us that she would give us a warning when there were 5 laps left. With that we all got ready for the start. When I whistle blew, I knew I had to make a move for the front. Luckily I had a great first pedal stroke, and my left shoe clicked into the pedal the first try. I pushed a few hard pedal strokes to gain my position, and by the time we got to the first corner I was in second or third place. I probably could have been in first if I wanted to, but due to turning into a head wind, I just wanted to ensure good general position for the race. I kept my eyes to the front, and tried to race smart, rather than race hard. There were some jitters in the first lap or two, but everything settled down pretty quick. Some acceleration came pretty quick, but nobody got away; someone always jumped onto the wheel and the group followed. There were a few times that my wheel came a bit close to another riders, but luckily everyone at the front had a good head about them. Riders were communicating with each other, letting others know if they were getting close. After several laps I heard some riders talking about a lead over the field. I didn’t pay too much attention to that talk; I just kept focused on keeping at the front. Due to the 180 degree turn, we could see the riders dropped off the pack. At one point, I noticed that there was a large group that had fallen off of the leaders.
The race continued to progress nicely, and I didn’t have much of a concept of time. We started lapping riders, and that always helps bolster the pack. There was an uphill section before the last turn before the start/finish, and that was generally where riders would jump a little. I just kept near the front, and kept pace. Every now and then a rider or two would go off the front, but we always brought them back. When one rider would go, I wouldn’t follow that acceleration, but I would wait until the next chaser to go and get on his wheel. Since everyone was doing some time on the front, I decided to hop on front and pull. I pulled for about 0.75 of a lap, and tried to keep a good pace. I knew that I wanted to retain some strength for the rest of the race, so I just pulled at a reasonable pace. I figured that if I wasn’t pulling hard enough, riders would pass me; they did not. We got down to the final 5 laps, and the field had been rather scattered at this point. The Air Force Academy had a team in the race, and they had the largest number of riders in the front. I thought that they were going to make a run at the win, and tried to get a read on their communication. In the end the Academy team didn’t pull it together.
As we came into the last lap, a rider come off the front, and we all began to give chase. He maintained a gap on us, and made good use of the downhill section of the course. As we came into the uphill section, riders were jockeying for position. I found that I was a boxed in, and couldn’t safely move past riders. I couldn’t have accelerated up the hill much faster, but I did have to let up for a second or two to not hit the riders in front of me. When we made the last corner, I picked a clear lane and jumped. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to win, but I wanted the best finish I could have. I was definitely tired from the race, but I think that I put up a good sprint. I took two cool down laps and was able to get my results right before the next race started. I took 7th place, and I was plenty happy coming in with a top ten finish.