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Spring Racing Update
26th Mar 2014Posted in: Blog, Featured Posts 0
Spring Racing Update

As a final push to get racing experience prior to spring series, the Beta Cycling team competed in seven races in two weekends. I’ll provide a brief analysis of each race below, with results posted at each section.

Weekend 1
At 6 a.m. on Saturday, March 15, we piled into AJ’s car to head to Louisville for the Long Run Park Circuit Race. Because the Indiana University Cycling Club opted to race in St. Louis, we recognized the Cutters as the only other Little 500 team present. Long Run Park is a smooth, two-mile circuit course with one big descent following the start-finish line and brief climbs interspersed throughout the course.

Louisville Long Run Park Cat 4/5
Chris Craig 4th, Joe Laughlin 13th, Kyle Knight 23th, AJ Sood 36th

Start Line

Start line on Saturday

The four of us were a little slow to react off the start line, so we immediately had to put forth a solid effort to move up to the front of the pack. About halfway through the race, a group of two escaped from the pack; because it didn’t seem like a sustainable threat, no movements were made off the front to bridge. It quickly became apparent, however, that the leaders were holding their position; therefore, Knight led several attempts to bridge with Craig, Nick Thierry of the Cutters, and a few other riders. Ultimately, these efforts did not last when no one pulled through for Knight, so the exhausted rider had to sit back in the pack. Craig held great positioning for the field sprint, and as I was surging up through the middle of the pack, I was nudged off the road and into the grass by a rider who was being lapped. Sood fell victim to mechanical failure with two laps left in the race, as his derailleur malfunctioned and he fell deeper into the back. This race proved we had much to learn about maintaining proper positioning in the track, but we were able to achieve solid results despite several lapses in judgment during the race.

Louisville Long Run Park Cat 3/4
Chris Craig 11th, Kyle Knight 14th, Joe Laughlin 16th, AJ Sood 30th

In the second race of the day, the team raced much more aggressively. We all consistently held much better positioning, and we worked together to constantly move up during the race. We all were caught in essentially the same position coming in to the final turn, so we ended up finishing the sprint nearly side-by-side. We recognized that we still had much to learn about making movements in the pack at strategic times, but overall, we were happy to stay competitive in a very strong field.

Chris in solid position

Chris in solid position

Weekend 2
After a full week of Spring Break training, we all had sore legs heading into the second weekend of races. We planned to race five times in St. Louis, where we were hosted by a long-time friend of the team,  Chelsea Merta.

St. Louis Team Time Trial
We woke up bright and early for a 4-person team trial, but unfortunately got a little lost on the way to the event.  Even with no warmup we were able to put out a solid effort.

St. Louis Forest Park Cat 4/5
Kyle Knight 4th, Joe Laughlin 6th, Chris Craig 8th, AJ Sood 45th

We arrived at the first criterium of the day still sweating from the team time trial, and we barely had time to hop out of the car, grab our bikes, and head to the start line. The course was a little over a mile long, with several technical turns and a decent incline heading into the final turn. We all had high expectations for the first race, and our excitement caused us to push the pace at the front for the majority of the race; however, while we were near the front, we knew we were doing too much pulling and expending unnecessary energy. After sitting in for a few laps, Chris and I attempted to make a move to the front of the pack on the backstretch of the final lap, but we were forced into the gutter and prevented from making a move. We advanced our position during the sprint, but we knew we still had to change our race strategy if we wanted to win a bike race during the weekend.

St. Louis Forest Park Cat 4
Chris Craig 4th, Kyle Knight 18th, Joe Laughlin 28th, AJ Sood 45th

The field in the second race of the day was much more competitive, experienced, and skilled; furthermore, being our third race of the day, none of us had much kick left in our legs. We all sat in the middle of the pack for the majority of the race, attempting to move up during descents and tailwinds. We were too relaxed with our positioning, however, and often found ourselves being overtaken and forced to burn our legs to move up on the outside. Craig approached this race almost perfectly, though, and after sitting in for almost the entire race, he made a brilliant move on the outside heading into the final lap that put him in the mix with the leaders, while the rest of us were crunched in the field and unable to move up during the final lap. Chris again advanced his position on the sprint, and he was able to finish well.

St. Louis Carondelicious Park Cat 4/5
Chris Craig 3rd, Joe Laughlin 15th

Chris and I after a long week of racing

Chris and I after a long week of racing

While Sood and Knight had to head home on Saturday to prepare for tests the following week, Craig and I remained in St. Louis for one more day of racing. This criterium was a little bit longer, with a large descent after the start-finish line followed immediately by a substantial climb into a headwind. Both of us were exhausted after the races of the day prior, but after discussing a revised strategy at length with Anderson, we agreed to make an attack off the front if the situation presented itself. With two laps to go, it appeared: I was sitting seventh wheel of the pack, which had slowed up into the climb. I allowed my momentum to carry me to the outside of the pack, and I drilled everything I had to get off the front. After holding a large gap for a few minutes, the adrenaline subsided and my body was utterly depleted. I eventually was bridged by one other rider with a quarter lap left, and within 200m of the finish line on the final lap, I was swallowed by the pack. That’s bike racing. Craig ended up at the front of the field sprint, which is a testament to his ability to race well even when fatigued.

St. Louis Carondelicious Park Cat 4
Chris Craig 19th, Joe Laughlin 33rd

In our final race of the weekend, we both put everything we had into staying in the pack. We made a few efforts to move up in the pack, but neither of us had the energy to hang with the leaders. We finished the race with the pack, hopped in the car, and head home.

Overall, both weekends served as great learning experiences, and we’re ready to apply what we’ve learned to some races on the track.

in _kai_
Joe Laughlin
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