Monday, April 27, 2009

ToStL. Spring!! Oops, it skipped the Midwest.

The last few weeks have been very tough for anyone trying train and race and even really do anything outside North of the Mason- Dixon Line. Cold, Rain, Wind, Warm, Sun, Snow, and more Wind have all been in the weather forecast. Typically, we’ll get 2-3 of the above mentioned conditions, sometimes 3. This weekend was actually hot and windy! Strange how we haven’t even had two days consecutive of mid 70s and all of a sudden you’re grabbing the cooler and filling it up with ice on the way to the races.

Mercy cycling made the trip through MissourA across I-70 to race the Tour of Saint Louis (ToStL). It’s a low key event put on by Mike Weiss and Big Shark cycling. Strange thing is that the “low key” brought some high- powered motors to come have a shot at being the King of the ToStL.

Day 1:

After meeting up with good friend Rob Kelly, we made our way to first criterium where we were greeted by Windy and Hot and Windy weather. Jason Knight’s SRM claimed 99F just before the race began.

The wide open conditions and weather made perfect conditions for a Cyclocross start and what a start we had. 27 mph in the gutter in a criterium? Huh? Seriously? Okay, here we go! 15 minutes later Joe Schmalz is in a 5 man move and rolling up the road with Bill Marshall having established himself in a secondary move. Not bad for only having 3 guys in the race. It would definitely have been nice to have a full compliment of team mates for the races. I was being shadowed by some guys who apparently read Steve Tilford’s blog and thought I was some sort of superman. Little do they know…..

Joe and Co. lapped the field with 15 minutes + 5 laps to go and the field then reabsorbed the secondary move. Time for some sort of lead out.

In the end, there were only about 15 guys sprinting although we left Joe in the wind without any help too early to really make a push for the win. Joe scored a 3rd place.

Race over. We decided that without any Time Trial equipment and the Windy, Hot, Windy conditions, it would be best spent to simply not head to the TT and save it for tomorrow.


Carondolet Park Circuit Race. This one took the Tuesday Night World’s course and combined it with the traditional park criterium to make a fun circuit race. Weather again was Hot and Windy with chance of a pollen storm. I’ve never seen pollen accumulate on my tires ever in my life until this race. Strange how something different happens every time you race.

Mercy decided that the best way to handle the conditions today would be to go on the offensive early and often. Straight from the gun Mercy had a keen eye on everything. I managed to slip into a move of 3, swelling to 5 that would manage to ride with a 15-20 second advantage for about 15 minutes before being reabsorbed by an angered field.

The following 4 moves all proved to be serious and Mercy managed to cover every one up until Butthead, Zach Reed and Jeff Schrotelin (sp?) ran away with the race. Everyone was either gassed or out of position and thus Mercy completely got caught out with the move; and without enough guys or horsepower to reel it back, we were basically left with no choice but to scrap for the next paying spots.

3 to go and a crowd prime of $110 is called, which instantly got all my attention. At this point 1-3 are up the road and $110 is more than 3rd place prize money. I was basically prepared to bet the farm on the prime. This late in the race, everyone is tired and only about 10 guys are racing, marking each other and effectively neutralizing each other. I found the guy I thought could unknowingly take me to the line and just like I thought he did it perfectly. Unfortunately, I left him and went onto a different wheel, only to have it flail and fade. Never leave change your bet and have the confidence to stay with your first decision.

Meanwhile, Joe makes his way into a secondary move and pulls out a 6th place today. I spent too much energy on the prime and never really recovered afterwards. Game, set, match. One spot for the team and a hell of a weekend of results for Mercy.

Photos courtesy of STL Biking Photos.