Chasing the Cat

By John Funke

Cat's Hill Criterium - 5/3/2014

Masters 35/45+ 1/2/3

Weather - perfect for bike racing.

Teammates: Foley, Bromstead, Benford, Allen, Pelaez, Cox.

Let me just start this by saying that Foley kicks ass and had he reg'd 45+ then he'd have won that race handily. Since I had the best view of the final lap and Foley is out partying tonight, I'll fire the first report.

The team plan was to try to keep it together and watch out for serious moves, then on the last lap, hit the hill with Foley/Funke/Allen/Cox with Bromstead as a possible substitute or the joker if anything went wrong. We were pretty sure it would be hard to execute exactly given the course, but we discussed the contingency plans, maybe some substitutions, and it was a decent plan, in retrospect.

Race went on with some solo breaks that didn't stick, but no multi-rider moves got away - we always had guys that immediately closed gaps (Bromstead/Foley/Cox/Dave/myself) without too much difficultly. Bromstead was doing a great job at being active and covered a lot of dangerous moves, in spite of his GoPro dangling precariously from his seat and his bike still making a few unseemly noises. Foley was also active but really did a great job of restraining himself and not going off the front - and it really served him. Cox was ever-present right near me and was in no trouble - we were all constantly top 10 and visually checking in with each other - it was good. Dave was looking smooth but I could tell he was clearly not his usual perky self (because, you know...he wasn't yelling at the rest of us - or maybe we were doing such a good job?). Pelaez presented himself near the front early on - was happy to see that. The plan was going very well.

Well...except for the crashes - there seemed to be a lot of them this year. A couple of strange ones at the top, someone went into the ivy and hit a sign. And I think I heard another after turn 1 early on. Then the terrible sound of high-speed banging and scraping after the start/finish about halfway through - Steve's crash. Then the last lap crash that Dave was caught next to when Phipps went down.

So...on to the finale - last few laps I check in visually with Bromstead/Cox/Foley and start to get attentive. Coming over the top before 1 to go I pick up Cox and we cruise up a few places to just behind Foley. I was not sure if Bromstead or Dave was on but we had *most* of the train ready to go. After turn 1 on the last lap I heard a crash. Foley hits the hill HARD HARD HARD and charges up the left side and some guy came on my inside and forced me to the right. At this point I realized that Foley might have a really good move going so I didn't full gas it to close the gap and Mike immediatly had a 25M gap with Peter Vaughn. Jeremy Cottell (winner last year - Specialized) comes by and Gil and I attach to him. Cottell nailed it hard over the top, around the backside, and halfway down the hill, but Foley/Vaughn still had a gap with Vaughn driving - Foley was in the perfect spot. But it was closing fast with Cottell still drilling it. At this point I may have made an error - with Cox on my wheel and Foley coming back, I should have made one last effort to come by them in the last section before the corner - and I hesitated and hit the corner in 5th, just as Cottell and Gil were about to make contact with Mike. Mike did a huge sprint and I tried to follow Gil/Cottell as best I could - but didn't do a smart or particularly good sprint. Cox came around me but didn't have enough road to make up the last few meters on Gil/Cottell/Foley.

It took Jeremy burying himself to get up to Foley BUT I also feel my hesitation in the last corner may have cost Cox a chance for victory.

So...yeah I was the first 45+ rider across the line, that was nice, but honestly I feel we could have won the race outright.  We executed well but I think I lacked the nerves to take Scott hard into the last corner. 

On the bright side, we were up there and fighting, 3 of the first 6 across the line - so great to race with such a solid bunch of dudes.

35+ Foley 3rd, Cox 4th, Allen 11th
45+ Funke 1st