Velo Allegro St. Patrick’s Day Criterium: Men 35+
by Charon Smith (Surf City Cyclery/Sterling BMW)
The cat and mouse game. Sunday’s race turned out to be a complete chess match between MRI and our team. The first 3 minutes started out rather chill, until MRI started laying down attack after attack for the rest of the race. Early on, I knew the game plan. MRI was going to keep pounding away until they broke the field up or got a mix that they liked.
I got to a few of my guys and said, ‘look, this is the game. MRI is going to keep attacking, which is fine, but we must be ready and respond properly. If not, the race is going to slip away.’
60-65 riders started and, for the most part, SCC and MRI had the numbers. Many of the guys seemed content with letting our two teams do most of the work, which is fine but I am a firm believer that you reap what you sow. MRI brought 5 of their biggest crit guns to the party: MJ, Chris D, Jamie P, Kayle LeoGrande, and Phil T (who is their hottest rider right now). We lined up with me, Mike F, Patrick Bos, Rob K, John Slover, Ben T, and Mike Carro.
For the most part, we were able to cover or get in every move except for the one that counted with about 5 laps to go. The gap was not extremely large, but it was large enough that it was tough to bring back the firepower up the road. This was a very flat, straight-up 4-corner crit. It’s not technical at all, but with the wind picking up and the pace staying steady (along with the attacks coming one after another), it made for an eventful day.
I am going to be honest. I was hurting. Not sure if it was from my recent crash or the attacks. Nonetheless, we had to fight on. I found myself yelling more than usual this race, which is totally not my style. While racing, I find it easier when I remain in a zen state and let things flow naturally.
As we began to line up our train to bring back the group that was up the road, I could see we were getting close but not close enough. I will say that Chris D and staff did an excellent job of shutting down guys going into turns by closing the door to slow down the momentum and keep his guys’ gap at a safe place. I must give credit when things are done properly and effectively. Paul V from Rock Sport Racing decided he was going to take matters into his own hands with about 2 laps to go and and he bridged up to the winning move.
It’s funny, you see things happen in a race, but sometimes you don’t respond or you think too much. Another lesson learned. Don’t wait for an opportunity, create your opportunity.
Going into the bell lap, things got crazy, but that is normal in racing. The team positioned me great for the sprint, but as I began to kick I felt this pain and realized I was not completely healed. It happens. We are all human. As I continued to wind it up, I passed one or two riders. Finally, I came up on Paul from Rock Sport Racing just before the line and I was able to nip him and take 2nd place for SCC/Sterling BMW. Phil was able to hold off the hard charging group and seal the win for his team. Awesome job by him and his team for racing as one! I was impressed. Congrats to all the men that came out and gave a solid effort, and remember keep giving an honest effort and never doubt your ability.
Thanks again to the promoters from Velo Allegro for putting on this event. It was fun. Lastly, thank you Cycling Illustrated for this awesome platform and giving me the chance to share the race from my eyes!