With some solid end of the season fitness in my legs, I decided to venture down south to Fresno for the San Joaquin Valley Omnium with Kalani Hines of Metromint Cycling and Randy Bramblett of McGuire Cycling. The Omnium comprised of the Yokohl Valley Individual Time Trial Saturday morning, the Downtown Exeter Twilight Criterium Saturday night, and another crit on Sunday afternoon in Selma.
Yokohl Valley Individual Time Trial We skipped the Time Trial as Kalani had to work late the night before and we wouldn't have been able to make it out in time. Only 5 people registered but we were now 20-16 points down in the omnium.
Downtown Exeter Twilight Criterium The course was a simple four corner rectangle with good pavement and decent lighting in the dark turns. We were scheduled for 72 laps so about an hour and a half of racing. The whistle blew and after a few laps, some riders attacked but nothing really got anywhere. I tried but had a similar result. An attack went with three riders, one of which was Vincent Owens who was sitting 2nd in the Omnium. Noticing that the move was dangerous and was quickly getting up the road, I launched a solo attack. I spent the next 30 minutes of the race in no man's land attempting to bridge. I would get between 20-50 meters from the group, they would look back and see me, and up their pace eventually shedding one of the three riders. After scoring a pizza prime, the field pulled me back in.
Exhausted and frustrated I went to the front of the peloton and upped the pace to shut down any other bridge attempts and try to prevent the break from lapping the field. Luckily no breaks more breaks made it away but the breakaway of two lapped the field. We rolled around for a bit while I let my legs recover and planned my next move. After a few riders made a move and were dangling off the front, I attacked, made the bridge up to the riders, and jumped again. I now had some good daylight so settled in for another TT.
One of the two riders who had lapped the field saw this as a great opportunity to secure 1st place so attacked the field and bridged up to me and we began rotating and gaining time. Halfway through a lap I felt my rear tire start to loose air and quickly went flat. As I wobbled along the pavement, my break companion rode off and soon the field came around me. I jogged to the wheel pit for a change and after a quick exchange of words with an official, got a push back into the breakaway on the next lap. The break had now become two riders after Vincent Owens saw first place slipping and made the bridge. The two riders were content with just safely sitting up the road as they were already one lap up on the field. I however was not so soloed up the road to catch the peloton.
Great so I was now one lap up and there was only a hand full of laps to go. The announcers announced that I had secured 3rd place on the podium with the two riders just behind us sprinting for 1st and 2nd, while the peloton would be sprinting for 4th. I was going to just sit in for the remaining laps but made the decision to navigate through the field and try to lead out Kalani or Randy for the field sprint. On the final lap, thing slowed down with two turns to go so I mashed to the front with Randy on my wheel. I stayed seated and started my sprint after the last turn launching Randy to take the field sprint by a bike length. I sat up and went across the line at the back of the pack.
Stoked I had finished 3rd and delivered Randy for 4th, right? Well turns out there was no communication between the motorcycle referee, Officials, and announcers. TWO other riders had attacked the field and one had lapped just before the sprint. When I sat up after leading out Randy, he simply rolled by me for 3rd and I got 4th. So much for having 3rd all wrapped up and everything coming back together for a sprint.
After over an hour of shuffling papers, riders protesting, and reviewing footage, the results were posted and we were able to collect our primes and winnings. One Official gave me the advice of not listening to the announcers. Thanks buddy. Selma Criterium We stayed the night at Kalani's brothers house which was only about 30 minutes away from the Selma Crit the next day. The course was slightly more technical the the previous day but had great pavement. The true test would be the 100 degree temperatures forecast for the 3pm race.
The whistle blew and almost immediately a junior Team Swift rider attacked. My legs were still warming up from the previous days effort and the junior hadn't placed above me yesterday so I watched him go. He dangled off the front for several laps when one of the riders who lapped the field yesterday attacked to bridge. Vinnie noticed and responded with myself and a few other riders on his wheel. He couldn't quite close the gap and looked back at us for help. I knew it was up to him for the omnium standings so just sat in the draft. For the next half of the race, everyone attacked the piss out of each other attempting to bridge or get away from the field. I put in a few hard digs but was marked from my attacks at the previous day. Vinnie went about a dozen times until finally getting away and everyone else was too burnt to chase.
The junior and the other rider lapped the field and made their way to the front to up the pace so Vinnie would be stuck behind chasing. He eventually caught the field and we were all back together again now sprinting for 4th. With four laps to go, I set the rest of my matchbook ablaze and attacked the field through the start finish and into a technical turn. Only one rider made it onto my wheel, the guy who had lapped the field the day before and finished in front of me for 3rd. I bargained with him that if we worked together, we wouldn't have to go up against the sprinters, but he responded the he was a sprinter and was cooked. The field reeled us back in. A Japanese rider then attacked and sat a bit up the road solo while his teammate slowed down the field.
On the final lap I was pretty spent but made sure I was sitting top 5. Randy made the solid move of jumping into the final turn which was technical to lead out Vinnie for 1st. Attempting to jump onto the train, I split two riders and sprinted across the line just behind Randy and Vinnie for 3rd in the sprint and 6th in the race. The Japanese rider who attacked at the end held it for 4th but threw his hands in air thinking he had won. Where was he the whole race? Overall Skpping the TT, finishing 4th in the Exeter crit, and finishing 6th at Selma, I placed 7th overall in the Omnium. Good stuff, fun weekend.