Apple Pie Criterium: 6/23/2012

The annual Apple Pie criterium had a new course for 2012.  It was rectangular in shape and pancake flat in an rural set industrial park just south west of Petaluma.  Although the pavement was quite rough, it was wide open and traffic was non existent so safety was optimal.  There weren't too many pre-registered for the P12 race so I arrived intrigued to see how many would actually show up and  race.  The main reason for the low pre-reg was because the annual, hotly contested, Pescadero Road Race, was taking place this morning south of San Francisco.  As it turned out, the field was pretty small but I was happy that there were some strong riders out including two from Wonderful Pistacio and one from Marco Pro-Strava, Webcor, Red Peloton and Metromint.  I was the lone racer from Mike's Bikes as we had a few guys at Pescadero and four guys at Nationals in Augusta, Georgia.

And we were off for 75 minutes of crit racing. For the first 10 or so minutes it was a consistent pace with guys taking their pull on the front and then rotating to the back.  The first move that really got any distance included Sterling Magnel of Wonderful Pistacio (WP) and the Webcor rider.  They were always in sight, with about a 15 second gap, that they held for approximately 8-10 laps.  But at some point it looked to me as though they decided to take the foot off the gas and let the field catch up to them.  No complaints from me.  With the second WP rider sitting in the chase group, a counter attack was bound to happen.  Sure enough, it wasn't long before a five-man break got established.  I could tell from who was in it that this was the winning move. It was Sterling from WP, the rider from Marco Pro, Red Peleton, Webcor and myself.  We worked well together and the gap grew from 15 seconds, to 27 and then to 45.  At this time I started thinking that the race may take a whole new direction if we lap the field because WP would have two riders  and be at an advantage over all of us solo team riders.  Well, that thought was soon diminished when I saw Sterling's teammate sitting on the grass as we passed the start/finish line with about 15 minutes of racing left.  We soon caught the small 'field' that was left and a few of them hopped on.  So now the finish was either going to come down to a sprint or one of two riders would get a gap and hold off the rest.  The Marco Pro rider made the first attempt to get a gap with 2.5 laps to go.  He was quickly followed by the Webcor rider, of who's wheel I jumped on to.  The hard acceleration and chase effort created some fatigue and neither myself nor the Webcor rider wanted to pull through hard.  For me, I had a game plan in the back of my head which preferred all of us together on the last lap. Fast forward 15 laps, I lead the five of us over the finish line as the last lap bell rang.  This is where I wanted to be.  I moved over and let the rider behind me pull through around corner 1.  From here the pace quickly slowed down and a game of cat and mouse ensued for a short period.  We were all looking at each other as we went around turn 2.  I was at the back so had a good view of everything going on.  At about half way through the back stretch, when I was about to make my move, the Red Peloton rider accelerated.  The three other guys quickly jumped on his wheel and I followed.  Fifth wheel wasn't where I wanted to be so I shifted up a gear and sprinted up the outside.  I just happen to time it right that I was able to go past the Red Peleton rider in front just before the second last corner.  My acceleration, combined with (what I later heard) the Red Peleton guy looking back for other guy to come around him, allowed me to quickly gain a considerable gap.  I kept my momentum through the last turn and continued sprinting.  The gap, combined with the head wind, allowed me to stay in front and ride across the line in first.  Happy times, some cash and an apple pie was the reward.  And Coco makes a good pie.....