Race Report: McDonald’s Tristate Criterium – Chuck Kyle
McDonald’s Tristate Criterium – Huntington, WV
Category 3-4 Criterium
Category Masters 40+ Criterium
May 30, 2015
Late Afternoon races
To emphasize this race, I have to start with shutting off the alarm at 4:30 AM, getting up at 6:39 AM and Dana saying, “Let’s go!!” After a 407 mile drive, we ended up in my hometown of Huntington WV.
As I drove from DC to Huntington, the day was looking better and better. My daughters, Brynne and Shannyn, both texted to find out when I raced. By the time we arrived in Huntington, I was in a great mood and ready to take on two back-to-back races.
When the course opened to pre-ride, the anxiety of the other riders in the 3/4 race was evident, as most of the field lined up far before the official call-up. At the beginning of the race, Ben Kuhlman (Pro Mountain Outfitters ) toed the line beside me, and we talked about last weekend’s Tour of Tucker County. Ben mentioned he heard this crit was fast. Little did I know that this statement was foreshadowing of his race plan. When the official said go, Ben was off. So I, at least, got a good warm-up chasing him the first half lap.
The afternoon was sunny, hot, and windy. As the whistle blew to start the race, it was close to 100 degrees. The course is flat and non-technical, a rectangle with left-hand turns. On the back stretch there was a pretty good tail wind and then the final stretch a good head wind. Luckily, the town of Huntington had repaired any damage from a cold and snowy winter, and the roads were virtually pothole free.
From a picture of the start/finish line, you would think the McDonald’s TriState Criterium is part of the NRC. The crowd is great, the competition is real, the purse is outstanding, but the fields are small. If they could only get more teams to come into town, this would be a great venue, but a 7-hour drive for a crit is a bit much for MABRA and VACA based folks. A Saturday Crit and Sunday TT might be a way to make this a two-day event and make that long drive more palatable.
My goal for the CAT 3-4 race was to get a good warm-up for the Master’s race and not to be dead last. I figured that by setting the bar that low, I would not be disappointed. I sat in for the race, didn’t burn too many matches, and waited for the final sprint. The last lap, I was happy to be poster fodder, ended up in the bottom half of the field during the sprint finish.
The Master 40+ race was a little different. I wanted to improve upon my finish at the Tour of Somerville. I have been pleased with my last few races and wanted to give my daughters and my dad a good race result. I started off with the three basic rules for crit racing:
1.) Line up on the front line.
2.) Stay in the top quarter of the race.
3.) Execute a plan. The plan was with 2-3 to go, go off of the front.
One of the neat things about this race, teams show up and execute a plan. Texas Roadhouse was one such team. Over the first three or four laps, they attacked until one was successful. Three TRH riders and two from other teams would manage to stay away for the race. I was in the position to cover each of the breaks, but I did not think something would stick in the first half of the race. With that said, for the next 15 or so laps, TRH pack riders moved to the front and slowed the field. I was not in the position to either attempt a bridge or drag the field back, so it was evident that the field would be sprinting for fourth place (one of the break-away riders had floated back to the field). With seven to go, I was on one of the TRH wheels (Lance Fagerburg) and another TRH rider came up and told him he had the field sprint (they had already locked in 1-2-3 now they were just adding more money to the split). Now my strategy changed. Stay on Lance’s wheel and I did. The next two laps were all about high-speed survival and squeezing through holes I can’t believe I could make. Came down to the sprint finish and I rolled across the line 3rd in the field print, 7th overall.
Lesson Learned?? Race like I am on Lance’s wheel. Just not something that I have done in the past.