Cole and AJ Go 1-2 at the Beanpot Criterium

When I heard that the Tufts Criterium was coming back after a four-year hiatus, I immediately realigned all goals and set my sights on winning at Tufts. The Tufts Criterium is the race that initially sparked my interest in bike racing. The course is technical, fast, steep, and really hard. I couldn’t wait.

Unlike most bicycle races in which sitting further back in the pack is an efficient use of energy for part of the race, the punishing Tufts course rewards those who are at the front.  Enter the first few corners too far back and you are treated to a race full of harder braking and sprinting out of every corner.

Cole Tufts CritSo, I was pretty excited to see AJ and Sam at the front of the race on the first lap. I quickly joined them and we ramped up the pace, trying to hurt those who started further back. Bike racing is cruel. After three hard laps, I looked back and saw all of ENGVT-Untapped sitting in behind us getting a free ride. So, naturally, I told Sam to attack.

Attack he did, and I went too because why not? Everyone let us go and we were gone. I just put my head down and smashed the gap to the field out to five or so seconds. Sam, sensing the urgency of the situation, promptly broke his bike.  I was thusly alone. The value proposition of trying to nurse a five second lead for the next 45 minutes wasn’t good, so I sat up and went back to the field.

Through some series of events that never registered in my hypoxic mind, Keith Kelly (former NCAA and Irish national cross country champion) attacked, I followed, and he led me to the pot o’ gold known as DA BREAK. I hung on for dear life as Keith towed me clear of the field, huge watts pouring forth from his legs. Through bleary eyes, I caught a glimpse of AJ in our group of four. AJ would certainly have the best sprint of the group. This would give me a free pass to attack the group in the closing laps, knowing that AJ would still win if I was caught (more on that in a hot second).

With Keith simply smashing out hard lap after hard lap on the front of the race, the gap to the field rapidly increased. The gap went from 19 to 60 sixty seconds in about four laps. Then, my wife, as if sent from heaven to inform me of the status of this breakaway, yelled, “16 seconds to lap!” The field was just around the corner.

With undoubtedly the strongest team in the field, AJ and I had a huge benefit to gain from lapping the field. I took over the lead from Keith and dragged us up to the back of the field in two more laps. I briefly thought about sprinting through the field and attacking out the other side, but that would have required a certain level of bike racing bravado that I did not possess at that particular moment.

Instead, Dave towed me up to the front of the field, where Dom was waiting, ready to break everyone’s legs (you know, figuratively). The breakaway was sitting comfortably in a GLV-controlled pack, when Landry’s manager Mark Vatour donated money for a prime. Dave will sprint for any prime, in any race, at any time. So, off he went, passing “Go” and collecting not-quite-$200.
 
Dave created a gap to the field in his effort to steal everyone’s lunch money. I saw this as an opportunity. I attacked up to Dave’s wheel and yelled at him to drive us clear of the field. This could have been the race winning move, but it was neutralized by one Ryan Kelly. I know this not because I saw Ryan chase us down, but because everyone on the side of the road was yelling “DAD WATTS!” as the newly-fatherized ENGVT rider closed the gap.

Dom Smashing at TuftsNot one to mess around, Dom got back on the front and drove a hard pace for what seemed like ever and ever but was actually about 4 laps. It was an incredible display of force. AJ and I stayed tucked in nicely in the top-5 wheels and awaited what would be a frenetic last lap. I mean, what could be crazier than 4 riders sprinting for the win out of the lapped field who is also contesting their own sprint on a six-turn course placed on the side of a hill?

When we received the bell with one lap to go, Dom was somehow still smashing at the front. I was fifth wheel, and AJ was closely behind me. With about 500 meters to go, I attacked making sure that I, and I alone, could sneak in front of Dom entering the uphill chicane. The gap opened quickly as others tried to get past Dom in the tricky corners. There were still 30 seconds of racing left, but I was somehow able to hold off the field all the way up the finishing stretch. Shortly after crossing the line, AJ patted me on the back, letting me know he had won the sprint for second. Dom somehow still finished 6th. What a champ.

 

 

GLV goes 1-2 at the #tuftscrit with @coleridesbikes and @ajmoran2!

A video posted by Green Line Velo (@greenlinevelo) onMar 29, 2015 at 4:09pm PDT