Folsom “Winter” Criterium – MCL Rehab with Jeff
(photo: Jim Elder)
Fresh kit, fresh legs, first race of the season and amazing weather – ya you could say I was excited. Having thought my season was over before it started with a knee injury the week before, lining up to race was already a success. Over 100 registered riders on the day for the combined E3/4 and 35+ E3/4 field was going to make for an interesting race on such a short course.
Averaging 26.7 mph pace wasn’t too wild, and was actually pretty smooth -no major attacks, solo breaks or pace lining which favored single riders like myself. While a few of the teams were stacked pretty deep, most racers were still working out early season jitters and form.
Going into the race I had no game plan other than trying to be in top 10 by bell lap to give myself an opportunity to test the legs in a field sprint. I started the race off the back, trying to get a feel for where the teams were and how organized everyone was. It was a mess so the plan was to save my energy, stay safe and on the outside and wait for moments to freewheel to the front.
Having never seen any action with the 35+ field, I wasn’t sure who I needed to be worried about. Lap prime’s are always a free chance to view your competition, so I waited and watched but nothing clicked or stood out. It was fast and my heart rate was up, but it wasn’t clear if there was a wheel I needed to be thinking about in the final laps. Probably the 3rd lap prime I decided to put in a dig and warm the legs up, they felt good and from there out I was determined to stay top 10.
The lap cards started dropping and the pace held steady at 26 up to 30 mph. With 3 to go, I felt confident in my ability and was happy with my position. Bell lap came with some chatter in the group and the leadouts started to form from the outside. I took a glance from the inside line and never saw anything more than 2 team riders deep, so I sat and waited in 3rd position or so. Early on the backside, 2 riders went deep and it looked like the winning move.
(photo: Jim Elder)
I waited and heard nothing – no yelling or gearing down and I knew that was my opportunity. I bridged with a small gap and took a quick breather only to hear the hounds clawing at my heels.
I didn’t want to risk getting swarmed before the last corner, so I ripped the match book to hit the turn first. Head down, power up, and pedaled to victory, 100 vs 1.