With only three crits under my belt so far, I had a little apprehension going into this weekend where that number would more than double. I had signed up for all four crits that I was quified for over the course of the weeekend.
I had been dealing with a couple maintenance issues with the ol Trek so I took her over to the SRAM maintenance tent about 40 minutes before the race start. They couldn't really figure out the issue; I thought it was a BB problem making the ridiculous amount of noise every time I put out a healthy amount of power. When the race was under way, though, things seemed to smooth out.
The Cat 5 race had about 25 people in it. It was nice that they scheduled the race at the beginning of the day this time instead of waiting until the very end like at Joe Martin a few weeks ago. The disadvantage was that I didn't really get to see anyone else race on the course before we started. This ended up not being a problem.
The Tour de Grove course in west St Louis was a triangular course with two long straightaways. With about 7 laps to go, I decided I would pull for a little bit to try and pick up the pace. Seemed like whenever someone else took the lead they dropped off the pace as soon as they got up front. A few seconds later I looked back and noticed I had put 10 meters on the group. I kept spinning in as full and powerful circles as I could and a lap later I had decicively dropped the hole group. The bell lap ended up being a formality.
The cat 4/5 race ended up being a different story. With 55 riders, this was the largest crit I had done so far. A lot more riders were eager to take the lead and hammer out the straights. Seemed like every time we turned one of the three corners, someone else was drilling the pace. My positioning coming into the last corner at the bell lap wasn't great and I couldn't quite make up as much ground as I wanted to but ended up in 9th.
With a little time between the end of this race and the start of the pro race that evening, I swung by Big Shark, the event's main bike shop sponsor, and looked into getting a new crankset. As it turned out, they had one just my size and sold it to me at cost since it was slightly used. The mechanics quickly put it on and I was ready to race with a new standard crank that was much lighter than my old compact. It was a much needed upgrade.
The next day, the winds had died down a little and there was scarcely a cloud in the sky. The Dutchtown Classic was a much more technical course with 6 turns and an uphill finish. You could pretty much take the corners at full speed, which ended up being a ton of fun to navigate. The race coordinators were running a little late for our start time so they ended up shortening our ride. I think we only got in like 6 laps total. With only 17 of us, it didn't take all that long to thin out the lead group to 5, then 4, then 3 on the final lap. I waited till about the right moment and charged the hill taking the W in a sprint finish.
Again, the cat 4/5 today was much more competitive. As successful as my weekend of racing had been, I was going to play this one safe and do my darndest to strategize instead of buring myself up like I have a bad tendency to do. I swapped places with the other racers but tried to stay 10-25 riders back. I tried to go for the prime lap but some chump in a Village VW jersey bested me at the line.
On the last lap, the lead group still hadn't broken up much. I reckoned my positioning now was pretty good with only about 8 ahead of me. On the back straight, a swarm of like 15 dudes rolled up on my right and ended up forcing me to slow in the last two corners. I made up a lot of placement on the last sprint up the hill but not quite enough.
All things considered, this was probably my best racing experience yet, and two wins out of 4 races ain't bad at all.