It was a fine weekend of racing in the Salt Lake City area, started off with a Friday night crit in Liberty Park featuring lots of money and big primes. Of course it was open only to masters, women 1/2/3, and men 1/2/3 (men 3s added at the last minute). I arrived in the middle of the women's race, a rather small field for the prize money, it seemed to me. It also seemed they weren't going very fast, but I suppose they were racing each other pretty fast. The course was a little over a mile, oval like a racetrack. The women finished, and I went back to the car to pick up my sweatshirt, as it was getting dark. I parked on the far side of the course from the start/finish, and the 1-2-3s went by bitching about somebody crashing at the start, two guys used the wheel pit there to rest a lap. Walked backwards around the course the rest of the way, looked pretty fast with those gentle turns.
There were a few tentative attacks, then a couple local big shots from Einstein's got away with a guy from Vegas Sports. The three of them put half a lap on the field, no doubt thanks to blocking teamwork by the rest of the Einstein's boys. A group of six including Marty Jemison got off towards the end of the 90-minute race but were unable to make much of a dent in the leaders. Then over the last few laps the two Einstein's guys were tag-teaming the Vegas guy, but he outsprinted them both to win the $500 (and some primes too). Hmm, he looks pretty strong.
Saturday, after some active-rest spinning early in the afternoon, it was time for me to start racing at my third annual downtown Salt Lake crit. This year the 4s were separated from the 5s, much to my chagrin. Not! The 4s got underway a little before 5, preceded by the 5s, followed by the women and then the masters before the "twilight" event of 1-2-3s once more. Our field was maybe 20-25, not too large. I did have several teammates: Rob, who has been doing quite well since the beginning of the year; Mike, my o-t-b pal from the past few weeks; and Greg, my o-t-b pal from last year's Hammer at the Slammer. Paul, last week's renewed acquaintance from Lo-to-Ja, was also there promising to suck my wheel.
Off we go. The course is a block around, 0.7 miles, four 90s, a bit of a wind blowing across turn 2. Just like last year. Except no crashes. I sit in for a while. Some guy takes a flyer as the first prime bell rings, I'm bored and so I take off too. So does Paul, and we sprint-sandwich the guy taking the flyer. I half-wheel Paul. I wonder what I have won, I think I heard a dollar amount announced at the bell ringing. We are pretty much clear at this point, (Rob later says we were way out there) but I decided I'm kind of tired and sit up, get caught and start hanging out at the rear again. A few laps later Rob takes a flyer along with Paul and some other guy. They put a quarter-block on us, and now I have to block for my teammate. When I can get to the front, that is. The chase is not very organized anyway, but I'm still not in the greatest of shapes.
A helpful soul at turn 1 begins to shout out the gap at every opportunity. It gets up to 30 seconds, then down to 11 seconds, then starts to go up again. Somewhere in here Paul and Rob drop the third guy, and he gets sucked back into the pack, but I wasn't paying attention.
Three laps to go. I'm finally feeling kind of good, so I take a flyer. Sort of, in that I'm actually dragging around the entire field. I think I won my second prime here - that or it was while I was "chasing." It occurs to me that this is neither the best tactical nor best strategic move I can make, so I drift back to the back again. Should I have stayed somewhere in the middle? Anyway, the laps tick down and I have to move back towards the front. Back straight, I'm in the back.Turn three, I go around some people on this straight. Turn four, winding up for the sprint, and there are maybe five people in front of me, spread out all over bobbing and weaving in their sprints. I manage to not get shut down by some guy fading at 10 meters and give a good throw at the line to win the field sprint.
Now since it turns out that only Paul and Rob were ahead of us, this means that I get third place in this race for teh third consecutive year. Always the bridesmaid...oh well. My primes turn out to be a $10 gift certificate for a Salt Lake restaurant (dollar value) and a pair of movie tickets good at any Utah theater chain. My prize is $25, enough to cover my entry, and an engraved medal. Oh, Paul said Rob was hurting him into the wind on the back staright, and so Rob won the sprint for first. EDC, 1 and 3. Woo hoo. What a podium shot.
After wandering around downtown Salt Lake - not recommended as dark approaches, no fun to be had - I was back for the 1-2-3s. They were just zipping around those corners. A couple flyers went off, and the announcer announced that they were averaging 34 around the course. Yee ha. But the flyers didn't stick, and it cam down to a field sprint won by the same guy from Vegas. His name is Rene Sands, or something like that, and Chuck says he has been on the national team several times. Looks pretty strong, for a little guy, and he sure showed those Einstein's boys a thing or two.