Lodi Cyclefest (35+ 4/5)

In the photo: Alex Jonas

Written by Alex.

First of all, I have to say I really enjoyed this course, and recommend it to anyone who hasn't done it. I guess they changed the course somewhat this year, but I've never done it before, so I don't know what it was like before. Anyway, this was a figure 8ish downtown crit. I always love the downtown crits. Except they always make me want to quit my job and become a bike promoter, since they're so poorly attended, and have the potential to be such fun and awesome events. A discussion for another day...

Some things went well in this one, but also some lessons to learn, and it was a good reminder of those. With all the turns, and not a lot of big teams, I thought this might be a good breakaway opportunity. I tried early. Maybe 2 or 3 laps in, hoping the field would let me go thinking I had no chance. And if I could get through a couple turns and get out of sight, they might give up on me. But I couldn't get the gap I wanted. Either they purposely kept me in sight, or I have some work to do on my fitness. In any event, someone bridged. We tried to work together, but another person bridged. The three of us tried to work together, and then another person bridged. And so I gave up. Prime bell rang, so I kept the lead through the next lap. Approaching the line I saw a string of riders behind me, but no one contesting. I put on a short sprint to secure it at maybe 50-100m to go. That worked. My next prime attempt was not so successful, and I was caught at the line from behind. Lesson #1, I could have (safely) shut the door on the person behind me. I saw what side he was coming from, and could have just drifted, cutting off his lane, which would have bought me the time I needed. But I knew who it was (someone I'm friendly with) and in a moment of weakness, felt bad, and tried to just make it a drag race. I lost.

No other easy prime opportunities, so I decided to play it somewhat safe and save juice for the finish. In the last lap, I kept the first 2 or 3 wheels. Then some very large fellow made a big move, and I jumped on him, thinking he'd tow me to the line and I'd out-sprint him. Unfortunately, he ran out of steam a little early, and someone else sprinted from the other side of the road. I put the hammer down to try to match him, but lost it by less than a half a bike length. Lesson #2 and one that my coach has been yelling at me about for months now. I need to go earlier. I need to stop waiting for the right wheel to jump on and instead take control of the final sprint. If I'm fast enough, I'll be first. If I lose a bit of steam and get caught, I'll be second, which is what ended up happening anyway. With 16 of the 20 points I need now to upgrade, so a lot of the pressure I was feeling is off, I plan to make it a goal to try to do this more. Take more of these chances. Try different things out there and see how they play out.

Lesson #3: The podium shot. I was pretty happy to find a pair of neon yellow and blue sneakers hiding in the back of my closet that matched the kit perfectly. I thought they'd make excellent podium shoes. I also recently picked up an Equator Coffees hat that I think is a pretty rad addition as well. However, as you can see from the picture, I have some work to do in making it not look like the guy who won is using my head as an armrest. Hoping to get more opportunities to try out some different things here as well.