This weekend took me to Papillion, NE for the Papillion twilight criterium. I have never been to Papillion before so I was excited to see how this race would compare to others. It did not disappoint. I made it to the race around noon and the volunteers were just setting everything up. I had a chance to meet Matt, the race director, and of course asked if he needed any help setting up. they had everything rolling very smooth. He gave me a few pointers about the course and the possible rough spots.
This was going to be my last road race for the US Military Endurance Sports team. I am moving my affiliation to a local team here in Kansas City called KCBC. I have had several guys ask to be a part of their team, but I feel that these are the guys I can help and in turn they can help me move up. You will hear more about the KCBC team in the near future. I will be staying with USMES for the cross season.
My 1st race was the 40+ Masters. This race has all fields represented from category 1 to category 4. Being a cat 4 in this race is like racing a Chevy Corvette against a Honda prelude. Out of the 8, 40+ guys I finished 3rd. There were a total of 15 in the race and I was 6th overall. This was my best road finish ever. I actually only signed up for the race because there was another USMES guy that was supposed to race in it. His name was William O’Brien and he was nice enough to take the picture below. I want to thank William for not showing up, and giving me 3rd place:) My guess is that he would have been right there with me. In this race I worked much smarter than harder. This really was my only option because the majority of the guys out there were faster than me. So, instead of spending any time out front, I had to sit in and tail gun. This basically means hold on for dear life. I did get dropped during the prime lap, but was able to work with one other guy to catch the small pack that broke away. That took almost everything out of me. I did have about one match to burn in the sprint and I actually used it to pass one guy and go head to head with my fellow dropee. in the last turn he was in lead and I pulled up next to him and just laid it down. We both worked hard in that last 100m. At the last second I did a bike throw and just beat him by a tenth of a second. After the race we congratulated each other on a hard fought race and of course I had to make sure he was a 50+ racer. He was, I laughed and thanked him again for all his work to catch the pack. I didn’t realize that I took 3rd so when the results came out, I said out loud, “I took third”? Totally surprised by that finish. I say that because I always know where I am in a race. You have to or you might miss a guy go around a turn and break away from the pack. I was working so hard to hold on, the only thing I could pay attention to was the wheel in front of me and the turns.
The next race was about 2 hours after. I had to eat and try to keep off my feet. Both I did with some success. I was surprised to see several cat 4 guys from KC show up. Actually, KC had about 10-15 racers show up. I will post a link to the results later. In the cat 4 race I knew what I had to do and I knew the course. The one thing I did not know is would my legs hold up. I also was 100% that I was mentally all in. Not that I am ever not:) This race had a cat 4 national champion in it and of course he was 14 years old. His name was Luke and both him and his father were very pleasant to talk with. During the race Luke and I ended up in a small group behind a 6 man break, that are very tough to catch. I worked as much as I could for him. He sat in for a bit until he knew that he could bridge the gap. When he took off I tried to hang on but since I was in the wind pulling, I was dropped. I did manage to hold on to two of the guys with our 4 man pack. This meant that there were 7 in the pack ahead and 6 laps to go. Want to guess the odds of a 3 man pack catching the 7 in the pack ahead? Slim and none. So, I worked hard with 4 laps to go then 3 laps to go. As I came across the finish line and saw 2 laps to go, I noticed a shadow behind me. These two guys were on my ass and having me drag them around the course. I sat up, dropped my speed to 15 and they were still behind me. I moved to the left and dropped my speed even more and insisted that they pull. Then one of them jumped and jumped hard, they almost dropped me with 2 laps to go. I made them both pull for those final laps and in the sprint I had the choice of taking 8th, 9th or 10th. We all went into that final turn at top speed and in the sprint I took 2nd out of the three of us and secured a 9th overall out of 25. The legs did well!
After the cat 4 race I sat with Chris from foodys and watched the 3’s race and then the pro 1,2. By the time the pro 1,2 race started it was Chris, Zach and Finn (son of Shad, cat 1 racer) sitting around. This is why I stick around the races. To support those guys and girls out there but to also hang out with people I may have never had the chance to meet. Out of the 4 of us we had a span of 4 generations. Finn 11, Zach 26, Chris 33 and me 48. I think that’s pretty awesome. We sat around, watched the race and watched Finn do his BMX tricks, poked fun of each other and, for me at least, just enjoyed every ones company. Racing is fun, but hanging out with these 3 was way more entertaining. After the race, Chris and I were going to grab a bite at the local brewery and asked Zach and Jordan (cat 2 racer from KC) if they wanted to join us. We all met at Nebraska brewing and had a beer, ate dinner and cracked jokes all night and just relaxed. I did tell a few war stories:) I might share some of those here one day.
Thank you for reading. Now go out and meet a stranger and be nice to cyclist:)