My second crack at the Redlands Bicycle Classic got off to a good start. The team was riding well together and the last 2 stages were guaranteed to be eventful. Stage 4 is a criterium in downtown Redlands. Stage 5 is a very cool race with laps around the famous Sunset loop capped off with a few laps of the criterium course. From the onset, I made no reservations about my willingness to do well in these stages. Being able to show off my abilities and the teams sponsors under tense racing conditions and a fiery crowd really adds to the excitement of bike racing.
Riders were on the start line for the Stage 4 crit nice and early, under the hot SoCal sun. The crowd builds the atmosphere, either adding to the nervousness of those who don’t like the intensity of criteriums or rousing riders, like me, who are keen to zipp around on an action packed stage. Tight, flowing corners on this course allow riders to show off their technical abilities and two longer straights provide an opportunity for stronger riders to string out the field.
The pace was hot from the gun with a handful of riders forcing breakaways. I was very active and after several attempts, managed to get into a break that escaped the peloton. Once the break is established, saving energy is important to finish well, so too is continuing to take corners at speed–which requires focus and reliable equipment. On Silber, our Argon 18’s have Zipp tubulars; giving us the confidence to both push the limits on corners and to save energy.
In the latter parts of the race, I was feeling slightly off and found myself pushing a bigger gear. I was getting lazy and needed to refocus as we were set to contest the win. The break rode together, all of us doing an even amount of work. As the lap counter entered single digits, a crash in the break took two riders down around the first corner and enforced the need to be alert. Having taken this corner so many times before, it shows how easy it is to get too eagar and pedal through the corner: you lean just a little too much or make yourself vulnerable to other riders’ mistakes.
Hearing the last lap bell ring was a welcome sound. The crowds were as loud as ever and then any errors will ruin my chance of winning. Sadly I made the mistake of being too far back in the last few corners, which are very tough to move up on when everyone is taking racing lines, using the whole road. Regardless of my error, the riders who made the podium were strong and did a good job of navigating the exciting course. To have come so close, envisioning crossing the line first but to end up 4th is a tough swallow.
I can see what my training has been lacking and the mistakes made during the race. Silber cycling has a good race calendar so there is plenty of opportunity to fine tune our abilities and become that much more familiar with our bikes and equipment, no doubt turning top 10’s into podiums!
[Note: ARay came 4th again on the 5th Stage, continuing his strong start to the season]