The Saturday race at Z Boaz park was a fast open course with the exception of a drop down into a muddy creek bed. It was a decent size field and I had a good sprint and ended up 4th wheel in a fast start. On the second turn which was a sweeping right hand turn after a fast straight my rear wheel let go and I went down. The sound of bikes and bodies going down behind me immediately followed. I quickly jumped back on and chased now sitting in about 9th. After a lap of hard chasing I managed to work myself back up to fellow SA rider Henry G. and a local stud junior Imari. We rotate and try to bring back the top 3 but never make any progress. As the race progresses my struggles through the muddy creek begin and the chase back on in the beginning take their toll. I'm okay going down into the creek and through the mud but on the climb back out the other side I can't get good traction and I crawl out. We received the 3 laps to go card and I come off the group climbing out of the muddy creek. I fought to get back on but the next lap the story repeats itself and the crawl up out of the creek bed creates a gap I can't pull back. The last lap I have one chaser but I feel good. The last drop down into the creek and again I struggle getting out. The chaser is now close enough that I can hear his derailleur shift. We go over the barriers and down a straight to a 180 degree turn to the final sprint. He catches and passes me around the turn and we sprint for 6th. The sprint is just to short and he holds on by half a wheel. 7th isn't bad in that field with a crash.
Below is a video of the action through the mud pit with first the 40+ race and then my race. I make a brief appearance at the 1:20 mark and then our race is at the 2:30 point of the video.
Sunday was a "crit on the grass". It started on a wide paved road that fed into a narrow path up over a berm. It then went through a small ridable sand pit followed by a forced run up the steep berm. It was speed and power through the rest of the course with only a set of 3 barriers to break it up before entering the very long paved section.
Recently I have been aiming to be 3rd wheel when the order establishes. The whistle blew and I tried my normal strategy of going hard but trying not to get the whole shot. It was a long ways down the pavement to the bottleneck and about halfway there I looked around and everybody else was waiting for someone to go. 2 quick down shifts and I got out of the saddle and went hard. I entered the bottle neck first and went through the sand pit and up the berm and realized I had a good gap. I put my head down and road solo for the next lap and a half. I was then joined by a rider from Mad Duck, Imari from Saturday, and another junior from Imari's teams. We worked together and built a large gap that would stick. With two laps to go Imari's teammate attacked and I covered. Then Mad Duck and Imari counter and get a small gap. When we get back on the pavement Imari's teammate tries to jump and bridge but I quickly grabbed his wheel and he sits up. I lead back through the sand pit and run up but feign that I'm cracking. Imari's teammate bites and tries to jump across again and I grab the wheel and we're all back together going into the barriers. I'm sitting 3rd wheel with Imari in front of me. We go over the barriers and Imari's teammate clips a barrier and goes down hard. I started thinking about my sprint to early and as I remounted my bike I rubbed my front wheel on Imari's rear wheel and went down. I was able to get up and ride finish 3rd despite a bent right shifter. It's my best finish this season but it's bittersweet because I liked my chances in a heads up sprint.
My form is starting to show up especially in these less technical courses. One more race in Austin and then a break till after Thanksgiving. It's funny how success can make you love racing even more.