E3 (cat 3) Race Report by Nick Caster (May 5-6).
I started off April right; with a renewed commitment to training, focused miles, and lots of Pabst. The Golden State Race Series (GSRS)was coming up and I was the reigning E3 Champ (chump). I knew I wanted to win the overall again, rack up some points, and represent DDA. Jason and I had a plan, and in theory, it was a good one. Jason would usher me to the finish line, all 1800 watts of glory parting the sea of crit racers. I would then come around him for the win, sirens would sound, lightning rods would shoot from the tips of our one-fingered winner salutes. Back to reality where the race started uneventful. Standard E3 stuff, really. One guy goes, everyone chases. It’s like watching 6 year old soccer. There goes the ball, there goes all the kids. Repeat x 100. At one point I found myself off the front for half a lap and nabbed some pretty rad photos.
I decided to chill out and re-enter the pack. I heard one crash from the rear and a lap or two later, another crash. Turns out that crash was the now viral video of my old teammate Danny Mossman getting taken out by a rogue drone. I’m not saying I had anything to do with it. I’m not exactly a Tonya Harding fan, but were this women’s figure skating, Danny was Nancy Kerrigan and that drone was Shane Stant. Danny is okay, which is why I can lightly joke (heal up quick Danny!). Again, uneventful, but the green jersey competition (new to GSRS this year) did liven things up a bit on the front straight as fellow racers conjured up their inner Sagan and went for green glory. In the closing lap, I couldn’t find Jason on the back stretch so sat firm at 3rd or 4th wheel. Moves went and I surfed, staying right where I needed to be.
On the second to last corner Jason came flying around the left side with so much speed, I all out sprinted to catch his wheel. In the heat of the moment, entering the final turn in 1st and 2nd position, I think I may have yelled something like “you’re dropping me,” or “slow down,” but I’m glad he didn’t. I put my head down, held that line and got nabbed for second, throwing my bike in for third. Jason held on for the win, doing exactly as I told him: don’t slow down, don’t look back, just go. If I can come around you I will. In the end, I couldn’t, but the best sprinters make for the best lead-out guys, and I’m glad I had Jason on Saturday.
Sunday I was solo, and since 1st and 2nd place weren’t there (Jason was out), I was now the “leader.” GSRS does call-ups the second day, so if you have any aspirations of quietly entering day 2 without a target on your back, good luck. Sunday was a pedestrian pace, and my power file proves it. The big winner of the day, literally, was Stefen Creason. Dude put in a light attack off the front at 3 to go and then just steam rolled off. The gap went quick as one corner yelled 18 seconds. A few corners later, “25 SECONDS!” A few more corners later, “30 SECONDS!” Stefen was gone. Not one single team seemed interested in chasing. I repeat, NOT ONE. So, I put in a few jabs and it was 6 year old soccer all over again. Marked. I sit near the front and wait to sprint for second. I have never seen so much lateral movement in the final 1k of a race.
I needed to stay safe so burned matches making sure I was near the front and lightly in the wind on the outside. Not smart, but safe. At 500k to go I found myself boxed in by fellow racers thinking the finish line was the finish line. This is NOT the case at GSRS. I’m not giving away any trade secrets here, but the deciding spot before the finish line is BEFORE the chicane. I yelled at a gentleman in front of me to “move-out” about 6 times before he finally did and I started my all out sprint to the chicane too late and in too much wind. I rolled into the final chicane 4th wheel and made my way to 3rd wheel for a 4th place. Congrats to Stefen for staying away and taking the win in style. That 4th place and my prior day’s 3rd place was consistent enough to earn me consecutive GSRS wins in E3. 6 total upgrade points for the weekend brings me that much closer to my Cat 2 upgrade.
Thanks to Rio Strada Racing for a fantastic event and my fellow Data Driven Athlete boyz for being such a rad group of guys to race with.