Last weekend James, Scott, Johnny K., Bryan, Ryan, and I traveled to Austin to participate in La Primavera at Lago Vista. The two day race is made up of a 5.5 mile loop that travels around a resort community. On the second day, the loop is shortened to 4.4 miles and you increase the number of laps appropriately. The course is pretty straight forward with the first half being primarily uphill and the second half becoming a swoopy downhill with an up-hill kicker at the start/finish line.
Ryan went first in the Cat 4/5 race and did a much better job of representing Team Tom's than those of us that participated last year. There were some ringers in his field, but Ryan managed to hang on to place 13th on Saturday and 10th on Sunday. Since I wasn't in this race, I don't have many details to share with you. But it was impressive to see Ryan racing all by himself against some stacked teams and good talent. I think he learned some important lessons in these races and I am excited to see how he implements those in the coming weeks.
About 75 riders started the Cat 4 race on Saturday. Unfortunately, Texas likes to place blue reflectors in the middle of roads to indicate the presence of fire hydrants and they love implementing fire hydrants. These are placed in the worst possible place for a bike race and were the cause of a few crashes. The first crash came on the lap 1. I was able to slow up, ride around the crash, and then chase back on. Johnny K. had to come to a complete stop to avoid the crash and then chase back on. Unfortunately, this effort would take too much out of him.
At the end of the second lap, I got tired of being yo-yoed on the back and moved to the top 10 on the downhill. (If you are wondering what Scott, Bryan, and James are doing, they are chilling in the top third of the group and avoiding the chaos.) At the start of lap three (of seven), I was passing a rider on the left when he tried to sprint out of the saddle and he stuck his shoulder into my rib cage. Luckily, I was able to keep my balance but I lost some of my nerve. Right before the downhill, James rode past Bryan and I and announced, "it's about to go." As we turned towards the downhill, the pack was in a dead sprint. I pushed the pedals as hard as I could, but the distance between me and the pack continued to grow and the riders behind me started to pass…my race was over. I finished that lap and one more before calling it quits.
James, Bryan, and Scott continued to race smart and controlled. On the last lap, a rider hit one of the blue reflectors, lost control of his bike, and went down. James and Scott had nowhere to go and crashed into him. Amazingly, they did not get hurt and the only damage was to Scott's front tire and saddle. Bryan was not involved in the crash and sprinted up the finishing climb with the pack, crossing in sixth place, and picking up $40 in cash for his efforts. In that instant, Bryan fulfilled a dream of his and got paid to ride his bike.
For me, the coolest part of the trip was after this race. A rider from the Ft. Worth are came up to Bryan and asked him how he did. After Bryan told him he was in the top 10, the guy replied, "I think I got Top 10 as well. I was keying off of you guys since I knew you would be in the mix. I really like riding with you guys. You ride a smart race." It turns out that this guy was at Hotter 'n' Hell last year and was pretty impressed with our team. This was a huge compliment and I felt a lot of pride in our team after his comments.
Sunday's race was a little different. The field was smaller and probably had 55-60 riders in it. Luckily, we didn't have any crashes but the wind was picking up before the race started and continued to get worse throughout the day. On lap 6, the peloton ramped the pace in the crosswind section and I got gapped. I chased back on but was in the gutter and got dropped. I was able to work with two guys from Sugar Cycles to catch back on, but the damage was done. I moved up to the top third of the group on the downhill to better position myself for the wind on the next lap. But once again, I found myself in the gutter and got dropped. This time there would be no bridge. James, Bryan, and Scott continued to ride a smart race and on the last lap James and Bryan even attacked the group. Bryan crossed the line in 12th position (three guys managed to escape from the peloton) and Scott crossed with the peloton as well. James paid a bit for his attack and came in just after the peloton.
All in all, it was a good weekend of racing. We (Bryan) made some money, no one got seriously hurt (maybe just my ego), and we had a great time in Austin. It's going to be a good year...