Today was another great day to wear proudly the Red Peloton kit, and jump on my bike too race. This time it was the Dash For Cash Criterium.
The Elite 5 group would race for 40 minutes in a very easy course: four turns, with absolute perfect pavement and wide corners. There were some strong winds which I figured would play an important role today. We had a head wind to the finish line.
As with most cat 5 races, everyone of the 25 people were a "Single rider team." I was almost certain breakaways wouldn't survive due to the wind, for that reason, I stayed about 10 wheels from the front, negotiating my position to shelter music from headwinds and crosswinds. From the beginning, there were surges on every lap on the tailwind sections to try to split the group, but none of them were successful. The group would accelerate and slow down for all 20 laps.
On the last lap, I knew I had to make my move to get to the tailwind section first, and that meant moving up early. I took the first corner at speed and accelerated with the tailwind to create an instant gap. I then went solo for almost the entire lap, keeping a good buffer until the last corner. I was taking all the corners faster than the group but on the headwind stretch to the finish line I could see the group closing in on me. I decided to start my sprint early; however, one rider was able to catch me 200m to go, draft of me and then go around on the last 100m. I managed to get 2nd place! Very excited for another podium.
I would like to acknowledge the great job that the more experienced Red Peloton teammates do mentoring novice riders like myself. Cole took the time to go over and practice with me on how to take fast lines on the corners to maintain speed without wasting energy. On every turn of this race I saw people surging out of corners while I carried my speed and I thought to myself: "I'm saving so much energy for later on." I kept thinking of Mike's advice regarding the use of brakes, and Brian's advice in regards to how to protect my front wheel and maintain my position.
I am also very grateful we get to do the TNT crits because we get to practice different strategies and test what works and how to execute them. They definitely have me more confidence to figure out when and how I should make the move to contest for the win.
I look forward to the next event!
Cat 5 (road)