Thursday, June 01, 2006

Savannah Criterium

Jeff Clayton and I drove down early Saturday morning to ride in the Savannah criterium (Jeff also planned to stay and race the other three races on Sunday and Monday: Time Trial, Circuit, and Road Race).

The Cat5 race was first. There were about 30 in our field. The 1.1-mile course was long, narrow, and very flat with a section of pave' after turn 1, which made for some interesting shuffling of the order of the group on each lap. The bigger, stronger guys seemed to plow through the rough section much easier that us lighter riders. So I spent most of the back stretch of each lap working my way back to the front part of the group, then repeating that process for 40 minutes. Eight or 10 guys were dropped as we chased down several short breakaways, and I finished somewhere in the middle of the main pack at the end. I had fun, but have a lot to learn about crit racing (and I need to develop more power to accelerate out of the corners).

The second race of the morning was Masters Open category. Jeff was one of about 15 in the field, which included a team of 3 (I can't remember what team). David Gries (of the team of three) immediately tore off the front on the first lap and the announcer (who knew him) said it was over and that he would just time trial to the finish. However, on the second lap he anounced a pair of sunglasses as a prime, and as the group rounded turn 4, we saw that Jeff had chased Gries down. He then outsprinted the field and won the prime! The bad news was that after Jeff's catch, the Gries again took off and between his strength and his two teammates making it difficult for Jeff and the other guys in the group to chase, he did time trial for 40 more minutes to a 1-minute gap and the win. Jeff placed 3rd in the field sprint for second, giving him 4th place overall (and a pair of sunglasses).

Jeff told me later that he chased Gries again in the circuit, but did not finish with him. He finished 4th in the road race and 4th in the Omnium.