What a great night for a bike race! Just the slightest hint of fall in the air with the cooling temperatures and the waning daylight. These Tuesday night races have been a blast, same teams (us and Norwood, now Rocket Racing), same independents. They're races, they're hard; but not as intense as the weekend stuff. Tonight we were at Englishtown ( Ted Laury and Bob Jaggard will remember racing motocross here 25 years ago) and the course was very cool. It looks like a Lemans-style go-cart course with a lot of turns, chicanes, some banking, and a long wide 500m finishing stretch. It's the kinda course you don't get much rest on, it seems like you're working the whole time, and it's longish, about 1.3 miles. Definitely different.
The 4/5's were set for 35 minutes plus 3 laps which ended up being around 18 miles. There were about 25 starters on the line. It was me, Stevie Wu and Joey D. for Pro Pedals. Norwood had John Smertneck, Fernando, and Kenny ( I think that was his name, new young guy). Rocket Racing has a guy named Mike whose pretty solid and a guy I don't know who has some serious tattoos goin' on.
We had a neutral lap, the pace car pulled off, and the racing started. The pace was quick but not brutal at the beginning. By the third lap a break of five guys including Joey D formed and started to settle in to a rythym. Me and Steve sat back to see how things would play out and start blocking for Joe. But the field wasn't ready to give up yet, riders started attacking and coming around us and at one point I saw four guys starting to pull away. I told Steve "you gotta go now!" and he did. Steve quickly bridged up and with-in another lap jumped up to the front group. Things were kinda disorganized with guys trying to bridge and guys exploding and dropping back. By the halfway point there was a solid break of eight riders away and about 15 of us left in the main field. There were some attacks from the field, but nobody seemed to have enough in the tank to get away. I stopped worrying about blocking at this point, the break was gone and had a half of a lap on us. I started to go to the front several times just to get a feel for going through the corners a little faster. Several times when I was on the front the group probably thought I was blocking because I wasn't pullin' very hard. That wasn't blockin'; that was dying! Sorry guys, that was all I had. Smertneck made a real nice effort with about 4 laps to go that temporarily shattered the group, but again he couldn't maintain it and it all came back together. I was planning on saving something for the field sprint, but I had nothing.
On the last lap we were in the unusual position of being able to watch the lead group finish. With about 300m to go I saw a red and black jersey simply blast out of the pack and win going away. Turned out to be Steve who got the win followed by Joe in second. Mike from Rocket rounded out the top three. Nice job guys.
As we came down the final stretch I had absolutely nothing left and sprinted across the line behind Fernando and Kenny from Norwood and ahead of Smertneck, somewhere mid to rear pack.
So for the team, a great night going 1 - 2. For me, a good nights work-out on a challenging technical course and an enjoyable time racing with Norwood, Rocket, and the rest of the guys. We'll see some of you boys at Burlington Saturday and the big show-down at the State Crit on the 26th. Can't wait, we'll have a blast.
See ya'all soon!