Reston Town Center Grand Prix

7 Jul

Fast, fast, fast.  Jason’s got the highlights here.  Amazing how much more of the race you can see when you’re up at the front.

Reston is a great technical crit that rewards both raw speed and, with eight corners in 1.2k, bike handling.  It’s always in late June, and always a showcase crit, so guys show up flying.  This year it was even faster, coming a week after most of the field had been through three hard days of racing at the Tour of Washington County.  You can hope that the field will have tired legs after a big stage race, but a lot of the time it’s the opposite as guys are feeling the training effect of repeated hard days on the bike.  This was an amped-up field for sure.

My plans of a great start to ease the early fight for position were quashed by realizing on the line that I had a slow leak in the rear tire.  So sprint back to the car, quick wheel change from a helpful teammate, and get back to the rear of the group just in time for the last 30 seconds of the chief referee’s spiel.

The pattern was set by five minutes into the race: sprint hard to keep the gap manageable on the last two corners and uphill home stretch, then be super-aggro to close up gaps or move up through the corners on the rest of the course.  I wasn’t deliberately tail-gunning it, but I definitely heard the follow moto ref more than I had wanted.

Photo copyright Jay Westcott. http://www.jaywestcott.net

At one point, I noticed my tongue wasn’t dragging on the ground quite as much as before, and saw that the field had sat up with about 10 to go.  Amazing, I might actually make it through this thing.  Then a guy put in a short attack, and we were strung out again for a few laps, until six to go when the whole field just stopped pedaling.  Thanks to Joe Jefferson’s enthusiastic commentary I knew there was still a guy up the road, but everyone was just looking at each other.  One of the corner marshals said he had 20 seconds, which could well do it if we were all going to stare at each other.

We still had two sprinters and a late-break specialist in the field, so it seemed like a good time to light that last match and close this down.  I got to the front for the only time all day, and pulled for a lap or so.  The Bike Doctor guy off the front came back, the counter from Whole Wheel went immediately, and I was cooked.  I started looking for a wheel to grab but couldn’t hang on to anything.

As I spent a lap trying to cling to the field and finally being ejected from the rear, Jason was launching to get on what looked like the winning move.  I saw the three of them heading towards me as I came around the next-to-last turn, where the two parts of the course face each other.  The speed at which I was going to be lapped was as exhilarating as it was depressing: Jason’s move might just do it.  Those guys were flying.

I got yanked on the bell lap in order to ensure a clean finish, but the refs were kind enough to place me.  Unfortunately, Jason’s move was caught, and the guy from Carytown (who had just been in the previous move with Jason) won the sprint by lengths and lengths.

All in all, a hard, fun day on the bike.  And my teammate Jay was there with his camera making us all look like rockstars, so we’ve got that going for us.

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