The weekend past was another stage race, the Devon Grand Prix. Similar to Banff, in that there are more races than days, as well as great organization and community involvement, and a great prize purse ($6,000 is nothing to be sneezed at for the amateur cyclist). I had a fun time last year, and this year was no different.
In Friday night's hill climb, I went out hard too hard on the flat start, and crumbled like an aged cheese. Tied for 6th. Saturday morning was the same 30km time trial course as last year - unfortunately I'd given up on keeping stats by this time last year, so I can't compare my time, but I did improve on a 30/45 to getting 2nd this year, out of 20! Near the end, a car slowly pulled up beside me...my first thought was that it was a commisionaire DQ-ing me for a centre-line violation. But I wasn't being THAT erratic. I saw out of the corner of my eye as they pulled level that the window was down and they were pointing something black at me...I've seen enough movies to expect to be staring down the barrel of an automatic weapon. It was even a clean, black, European car like all the bad guys drive (I'm the hero, of course...). Then I see Bill Quinney, a FLASH! and then his SLR camera. So here's the photo with that going through my head:
Eat, ice bath, hot shower, sleep, then back to cheer on the cat 5 team mates. The race organizers had made the crit a points race format, so every 5 laps was a sprint for points (5 points for first, 3 for second, 2, 1, 1), and then a big sprint at the end (10 for first, 8 for second, down to 1 for tenth).
David went out hard from the start, with Clarke on his wheel. It looked like a bad move, until three laps later when there were only four guys in the group! David dropped off the pace, and two bridged up, but essentially David handed Clarke a 5th or better finish. Clarke pulled a lot, but stayed near the front for the intermediate sprints to take third overall. Great teamwork, guys! Champagne for the podium!
Keith and I had a great race, and were often right up the front. I was off the pace for the first sprint (I think I sprinted past the guy in 4th to...still get 1 point, doh!), and started ramping up to get better placings for the subsequent sprints. I didn't realize who the players were, and I guess Dan Hunka won the first two. Anyway, after the last intermediate sprint at five laps to go, team mate Harlee got on the front and went like a bat outta hell for three laps, stopping anyone from thinking of attacking. Then with half a lap to go, I got on the front and let 'er rip...Bailie came up on the inside on the final straight...I threw for the line (about 20 metres early)....and just squeaked out first! Woo! A half-bottle of champas and a beer later, and I was giddy as anything. :)
So it turned out that Dan also got 24 points, but the final sprint was the tie-breaker, so I took the win. Wow...first crit win. And a commanding 15 point lead in the weekend's omnium.
In the following day's road race, I got in a breakaway with 30km to go. I went super-hard, thinking for some reason we might get caught, when the two biggest workhorses were in the break with me (Blaine and Batstone)...with my overall lead, and a team mate in the break, I should have taken it easy. Anyway, I managed to edge out one of the guys to take 4th at the line, giving me the omnium win, a handful of cash, and an upgrade to cat 2!!