Berkeley Bicycle Club/Albany Criterium - 7/29/2012

With dark clouds looming to the East as I exited the highway 80, I wondered if mother nature would wreck havoc the 28th annual BBC/Albany Crit.  Wet pavement would definitely increase the chances of riders going down on the rectangle course around Memorial Park in Albany.  Fortunately clear skys and sunshine pushed away the dark clouds and we had clean dry pavement. Myself and teammate Tyler Dibble were the only two Team Mike's Bikes riders in the P12 race.  A number of other teammates decided to make the trek up to Reno to compete in the Tour de Nez crit.  This was the case for a number of  other NorCal teams; but I was glad to see they had sent some riders to compete in the historic BBC crit as well.

The race got underway and right from the gun Aerial Herman of Metromint attacked.  You could sense he (and likely his other team members) wanted to make this race hard, considering this was their 'home stomping grounds'.  This move was quickly shut down but soon after another rider attacked.  This game of 'cat and mouse' continued for the first 1/3 of the race.  

In my brief history of racing at BBC, along with a few tips from some of my more experienced teammates, a break does typically get away at this race.  This usually occurs out of turn 3, just after the 5-6% ascent from turn 2.  And sure enough, at around half way through the race, a break of around six riders were off the front.  Fortunately Tyler had got into it so I could sit in the field and mark anybody trying to bridge up to it.  Ben Swedberg of Cal-Giant happened to miss the move and was riding towards the front of the chase group.  I knew he was likely the strongest rider not in the break so I had to mark him.  He made his move going into turn 2 and I was able to get on his wheel.  As we went around turn 3, I looked back and realized nobody else had come with us.  The break was just ahead going into turn 4.  Here I had a decision to make; do I just hang on Ben's wheel and likely drift back to the pack, or help him a bit to get up to the break so that we'd have two teammates in it.  I decided that it was worth doing a little work and we ended up bridging up.  The break ended up staying away for a while but did get reeled back in.  I guess there were still some strong riders in the pack.

With two laps to go, the field was  together and it seemed like a field sprint was eminent.  I was in a good position at the front as I rolled over the finish line with one lap to go.  But then riders came by on my right and left.  Oh no, I was getting swarmed...and I couldn't do much about it.  This is a terrible feeling....something riders must always be aware of towards the end of a race.  At around the same time, an attack by a Metromint rider went down the outside.  It was Aerial Hermann.....he had been attacking all day and was once again bidding for the win.  He was first into turn 1.  I was probably around 10th.  I knew I needed to be close to the front going into turn 2 because the hard accelerations would likely start half way between turn 2 and 3.  There were fewer rider to the outside of me than the inside between turn 1 and 2 so I moved in that direction.  I was able to pass a few riders before entering turn 2.  As I came out of turn2 I decided it was time to go.  I looked up the road and could see that Aerial was still off the front but being chased by a McGuire rider.  I jumped out of my saddle and sprinted up the hill.  Just before turn 3 I was able to go by Aerial.  The McGuire rider had passed him as well and was just ahead between turn 3 and 4.  At this point I wondered if I should stay behind him and try to come around out of the final turn before the line or keep my speed up and go by him before turn 4.

With the momentum I had, I decided to go by him, with the hopes he wouldn't jump on my wheel and get a draft.  As I exited turn 4, I looked back and fortunately had opened a gap, enough to cross the line first.  It was another win for  Team Mike's Bikes.