I did the C race on Saturday (Cat 4/5, 36 miles) and finished 8th. Didn’t make the winning break of seven riders, but—thanks to Deluco and Grippo—I won my field sprint.
Lorenzo, Chris, and I did a couple laps of the short course before the race, and they were kind enough to offer lots of pointers. Three of which I remember vividly: (i) “In this race, nothing good happens at the back,” (ii) “Wait on the sprint…guys will jump too early and you have to trust that everyone else will turn to mud in the last 100m,” and (iii) “You want to stay to the right during the sprint.”
The first lap was very slow. The NYVelocity team put riders on the front and basically soft pedaled. I started like an idiot and found myself near the back. On each small climb, I picked my way through the pack and made my way to the front by about mile 10 (thankfully, the front of the race was calm up to that point).
At the beginning of lap 2, a rider got off the front and I bridged up to him. Two others joined us, but we got reeled in after about 3min (weak). I was knackered, so I got spit to about 20th wheel when we were overtaken (have to get better at that!). A group went off the front soon thereafter…this group ended up staying away. They had 20-30sec pegged on us the entire time, which seems to be a common theme at Brinkerhoff.
As the pace picked up, we must have shelled a bunch of people, because my group thinned out to about 15-20 guys. Then the typical bitching started. ”We need to work to catch the break!” ”Short pulls!” “Blah, blah!” Fact is, we never got organized and the break stayed away.
Coming into the finish, I was 7th/8th wheel around the left hand bend. And—as Deluco said—guys started their sprint from 400m out. I sought shelter on the right, as the wind was coming from 10/11 o’clock. For whatever reason, the group was strung out along the left side of the road. I waited, waited, waited, sort of winding up, staying in contact, but not thrashing myself. At 200m, guys started to fade, as the entire group was on the left hand side of the road, taking all the wind. I stayed right, and started to dig with about 150m left. I wasn’t following a wheel, but the guys to my left were breaking the wind. With 50m to go, guys were moving backwards and I pipped a rider at the line for 8th! (excuse my enthusiasm for getting 8th, but I’m new at this).
I’m definitely not a sprinter (at least my skinny legs don’t tell me I am)…but thanks to the great advice of my teammates, I was able to race smart in the sprint. Was a great event and learning experience in terms of (i) team tactics and why breaks stay away and (ii) racing smart when the wind is a factor.
Speaking of the wind…if you think the wind at Brinkerhoff is bad, check this out: