I am really enjoying these late season Bare Bones Crits at the Sportsplex. I feel like I am working hard in them. I attack and bridge, but haven't made the winning break yet. I know one thing I am going to work on this off-season is the sustained effort required to work hard in a break once I've made it. I tend to blow up a little and don't have much left to contribute.
Last week I found myself in a three man break with Bill Collins and Harlan Ward. I bridged solo to the the two man break and tried to work in as well as I could. Keith Johnson bridged up a few laps later and suddenly the pace picked up more than I could handle. The break broke up and we were all caught by the pack. A few laps later the winning break formed.
Now here's the part that is the "good sign". I feel like I can sprint, I just don't sprint. I have a mental block of being in the front or near the front in the final lap, unless I am on the front leading out my sprinter. So typically I just ride the final lap in and try to get in the top 15 maybe. Well in this race, on the final lap I found myself on Bill Collins' wheel. Then I gave up his wheel to allow Hosang to have it and I took Hosang's wheel. We rode to the front and I found myself sprinting for the field finish. I got second in the field and 6th overall (4 man break).
This last week played out much the same. I bridged to an early break that destroyed me to stay on. We got caught and soon later a large "split" occurred. At the point I realized the split was going away, I had just started to recover. I went at the same time Hosang and Tim Shockley went. Hosang pulled hard and dragged us there quickly. Unfortunately Tim had to drop back just as we were getting close. Mike was pulling hard and fast and it exhausted me just to stay on his wheel. We got to break and there was no sitting in. I got dropped from it. But so did nearly everyone else. This 10 man plus break ended up being a break of 3 riders with a second chase of just 3 more that nearly got picked off at the line.
So on the final lap, I once again found myself near the front of the field. Tim Shockley rode up beside me and I immediately jumped on his wheel with my other teammate Nisbet on my wheel. Tim sprinted to the front of the pack and we had ourselves a Virginia Beach Wheelmen leadout. Tim gave an awesome effort through the strong head wind. I was behind him yelling to just keep it up a little longer. Just before the final turn I had to go. Nisbet yelled "G0" and I went. As a second stage of the lead out it was the perfect place to go. But Nisbet, who took this season off, didn't have his sprinting legs and I actually separated from him. So I had a long sprint ahead of me. I was passed by only one rider...Brent from Atlantic Velo. As I discovered later, he was the same rider that beat me in the field sprint the week before.
So in 2 weeks I got 2nd in the field twice. But my confidence as a sprinter has drastically increase. Its a good sign for next year.