805 Crits - Garrett and Willie's Excellent Adventure

The 805 Crits are a three day criterium omnium in Lompoc, California. Willie Myers (Herbalife p/b Marc Pro-Strava) and myself carpooled together with the goals of not only getting some last minute Nationals fitness, but also a good amount of cash.

Day 1:

The first of three 90 minute crits was held on Friday evening. It featured a unique course with banked turns(!!). We were introduced to the high winds of Lompoc that would prove to be a signature factor on the weekend. 

The race started aggressive with a group of five establishing a break within the first 10 minutes. The peloton had no organized chase, so for several laps it was looking like the race was already over. Eventually, however, the group was brought back and another break quickly went away. This group featured carpool buddy Willie along with Logan Loader (Amore & Vita-Selle SMP), Brandon Gritters (Rock n Road), and David Waples (Audi). It was apparent that this group was not going to get brought back by the peloton, so I knew I had to bridge. I saw my chance when Pete Morris (Clif Bar) attacked and made 75 meters up the road with one other rider. I bridged up solo and drove straight to the front to open the gap further. A lap later, 2 more made it to our group and we worked for 15 minutes before we reached the lead group. The 9 of us worked together until 2 laps to go when Brandon Gritters attacked solo. Unfortunately for him, our break continued to work together to bring him back; we went even further and lapped the field with 1.5 laps to go. 

Willie had teammate Josh Carling in the field to lead him out, so I followed Willie through the field and back to the front. Entering the home straight Logan Loader started his sprint at 300 meters, forcing Willie to jump early. I held his wheel until he made it up to Logan. Then I made my pass for the win! Willie held onto 2nd place, giving us the "most successful hotel room award."

Day 2:

The second race featured 90 degree temperatures, the same high winds, and an uphill finish. Unfortunately, today I wasn't racing attentively at the beginning of the race and missed the ten man split that went on to lap the field. The race continued to be very fast and aggressive after the lap was made, but no attacks stuck until Logan Loader got away solo. Again, going into the final laps I knew Willie was a smart wheel to follow with Josh leading him out. Corey Williams (Incycle-Cannondale) slipped in front of me with 3 corners to go. At this point Josh Carling had been on the front drilling it for a half lap, and in the final corner he seemed to have blacked out and rode into the barriers, kamikaze! That is a committed lead out man; luckily no one else went down. Willie went on to win the stage and I took second in the field sprint for 12th. 

Day 3:

The final day was a longer 8 turn course in downtown Lompoc. Starting the race I was tied with Pete Morris for second place with 34 points. Brandon Gritter was down only 1 point with 33, and Logan Loader wasn't far back with 28. Willie had a commanding lead with 50 points. By day 3 everyone knew that a breakaway was going to stick in the high winds of Lompoc, so nothing was getting away in the opening laps. About 30 minutes into the race, a 5 point prime was called. I knew I had to take it to protect my omnium position. I started the 350 meter sprint in 3rd wheel, made it up to Willie's wheel, and finally came around in the last 50 meters to take the 5 points. Excellent. This long sprint totally gassed me, however, and Brandon Gritters saw his opportunity to attack. I fought hard to stay with him, but eventually he got away with Logan Loader. The Clif Bar team worked hard to bring the two back, but they were too strong and built up a gap of over a minute. 

The final was hectic with Clif Bar controlling the front, but not setting a blistering pace. I was in the wind on the second to last straight and entered the long home straight further back and on the windy side of the strong cross wind. In other words, I was going to suffer all the way to the line. I knew the windy right side would be traffic-free, so I stayed where I was. I passed several riders to my left and it appeared that I was going to take the field sprint. But I soon got my hopes up as Willie emerged on the far right, just in front of me. Darn you Willie!

My 4th place stage finish and 5 point prime allowed me to hold onto 2nd place in the omnium, by just 1 point above Brandon Gritters who took 2nd place out of the 2 man break. Willie sealed his omnium victory, and we drove home with more jerseys and flower bouquets than we knew what to do with.