July 1, 2010

Ohio Crit Weekend

After a tough week of racing up in Minnesoooooooota I took some rest for a couple days back home before it was off again to Cincinnati for some big team races, including the USACrits race Hyde Park Blast on Saturday.

Friday was the first year race in Madeira, Ohio. This was the first twilight crit of the year for myself and the course ran along the main boulevard of Madeira. Pretty much the entire Panther team was in attendance, so we had some high expectations. The course was very much on the technical side, with two 180 turns and a technical back side of the course the entire pack was single file for a majority of the race.

Our Panthers were on the attack the entire race, causing the field to shrink considerably until the race was neutralized halfway through for a nasty crash caused by a deflating finishing banner. Since the race was so technical the powers that be, namely Aerocat and Mountain Khakis’, kept a pretty tight lid on any potential escapee’s. With about 10 to go Vince and our Andy Clarke drilled really hard at the front to bring back the breakaway at about 4 to go. From then on it was sticking your neck out and risking life and limb for 8 more hairpin turns. Paul brought me up to the front with 2 to go, in the final hairpin we got swarmed, but I slotted in at 6th wheel which seemed like a good place to be for the final 500 meters or so. However, those last 500 meters were pretty much spent cornering and I only managed to pass one lead-out man in the second to last finishing straight for 5th place.

Saturday was going to be another dark race, not starting until 8:30 and running for an hour and a half. The Hyde Park race was also a USA Crits series race, which meant big money. The weekend of hairpins continued with a not so dramatic 180 just after the Start/Finish. Aside from that the course was basically two long drags with a trip up a dark narrow alleyway. To start off, the race was hot, and fast. Within a few minutes there was  a large field split with an elite group at the front, which thankfully contained nearly the entire Panther team. We were again very very aggressive, present in every move, or at least chasing it. Attacks and counter attacks went all race, until Andy Moskal got into a large group late in the race that got a good 20 seconds. However, as the sun went down and the dark alleyway got to be completely pitch black, the margin began to shrink. The Panther train got to the front with 3 to go, just as the breakaway was getting caught, and totally smashed it, keeping the other teams off until the final straight. My sprinting confidence was a little low and I waited to follow some wheels on the long finishing stretch. With about 100 meters to go two guys ahead of me just smashed into each other taking each other down, I did a little drifting and only managed to get tagged in the shin. I managed to sneak through and roll in 3rd, Paul also avoided the crash to come in 5th.

Unfortunately earlier in the race Vince was on the wrong end of a pile up. After not quite clearing the Kenda rider sliding on the ground he was flung into the air and landed hard on his shoulder, tearing a rotator cuff.

Noah and I made a 2 am trip to the downtown Cincinnati hospital to pick up Vince, who had a nice time with the locals. There had been a gang shooting that night, Vince said some guy had been shot in the face, but it was just a graze so he’d be fine. So a lot of the gang members had visited the hospital to show their support for their friends who had been shot in the face, or stabbed. Oh and on a side note, don’t expect any late night MRI’s in downtown Cincinnati, for whatever reason getting shot puts you in the front of the line for the MRI machine ahead of a bike crash victim.

Sunday was the final race of this three race Ohio series, Tour of Grandview. The race took place in a suburb of Columbus, so after saying good by to Andy Clarke’s parents, who were awesome hosts for the weekend, we made the trip up to the C-BUS.

Grandview’s course had everything to make for a tough day: a hill, a twisty decent, 95 degree heat, a ton of humidity, and chance for strong thunderstorms.

Apparently I ended up second in the overall competition which was worth a good chunk of change, so the plan for me for the race was to watch the two other guys in the top three and follow them around. As the race wore on I was finding I didn’t really have the legs thanks to the late night before, but most people didn’t and the field that started with nearly 60 was reduced to less than 20. Dan Campbell was riding like his twitter namesake: thedanimal, and killed it. After being in a breakaway that had just gotten caught he attacked his way into the wining breakaway with an Aerocat rider. Their lead swelled to 40 seconds as no one in the remaining field wanted to chase. Kirk also got away from the field solo in the closing laps. I had absolutely nothing left in the end and rolled in at the back of the field in 15th. Overall another great race for the team, Dan nabbed 2nd and Kirk was 5th. My terrible race didn’t turn out too bad, I still finished 4th in the overall competition, which was the last money spot.

-Chris Uberti