That’s pretty much the only way I could describe the weekend’s races. At first I decided to skip out on Bonaroo and do Mt. Pleasantso I could visit the family. Turned out my parents were dropping my brother off in NY that weekend and I only thought to ask after I sold my ticket, so after spending the night at an empty house and subsequently raiding all the food present it was up to Mt. Pleasant.
I decided to skip out on the time trial because time trials suck. However the rest of the weekend is a pretty great bit of racing. The whole town of Mt.Pleasant, which really dwindles in size in the summer months when Central Michigan isn’t in session, really comes out to support the event. The kid’s race literally has more participants than all the USAC events combined. The weekend starts off with your standard crit on a 0.8 mile course then the main event’s the 120 single loop road race that has $5k of prize money. But the really great parts of the race are in the support for the riders. Housing’s provided in the CMU dorms for next to nothing. They also give each racer a REAL race packet with a T-Shirt, which is a great tradition of bike racing’s yesteryears…Literally every Michigan racer will wear a Tour of Mt. Pleasant t-shirt at least once a week (bike racing is expensive, can’t be wasting money on silly things like regular clothes). Another awesome part: the “Racer Tent”. What other race not only provides water/Gatorade to the racers, but homemade baked goods and pizza post race?
On to crit racing action! There were some pretty strong winds for the day. The finishing straight was slammed with a headwind the entire length. Going into the race the omnium was dominated by the Michigan Time Trial Team aka Bissell –Nuvo putting 3 of their riders in the top 5. With 10+ riders in the field Bissell would be dictating the race. The Canadian Garneau team also brought a strong assortment of riders with a fast finish.
The plan was to mark Bissell with all their strong guys to see what they were thinking. Turned out Bissell was the glue keeping the peleton together. The only really threatening move came in the last half of the race when Jake Rytlewske got away and built up a straightaway worth of a lead. A Bissell rider was caught in no-mans land for some time. It looked like Jake held up to wait for Bissell, but by then they were within striking distance and were brought back just inside 10 to go.
With 5 to go we got organized behind old teammate Mac Brennan who did a few laps on front for us. With 2 to go I had Bob, Kirk, and Paul still in front. Coming through the finishing straight the last time a few guys started swarming up and required some knee throwing to fend off, but after the first corner it was all Panther. Paul hit it on the back side tailwind section of the course into the 2nd to last corner. I didn’t want to leave it too late like the previous weekend so hit it just before the last corner hoping guys wouldn’t be able to follow me through the last corner, turned out I shouldn’t have worried too much. I got out of the last corner and opened up my sprint, I sneaked a look under my arm since I didn’t see any wheels coming up next to me but there was literally nothing behind. Our lead out had been so dominant we had gapped most of the field halfway through the last lap. All I had to really do was not lay it down in the last corner.
Ok so now that I’ve bored you with that winning the race story it’s time for the controversial bit…the road race and disqualification. I’ll try to keep any disgust I have for the events out so you can make you own opinion. Things didn’t get off to a good start. Just after the race got past the first intermediate sprint (mile 5) the chief ref pulled in front of the field and stopped the entire field and caravan in the middle of a narrow road. He proceeded to scold us for crossing the yellow line and gave us what I guess now was our first and only warning. I can only assume that at that point he was referring to a portion of the course where there was a center turn lane that people might have been riding in (he didn’t specify) and it was a pretty wide road up to that point.
|Feed zone just before we all crossed the center line as one|
Approaching the second feed we saw 2 of the breakaway riders coming back. This was signal for hostilities to open up again. Since the Garneau rider had been dropped the Canadians went on the attack. This is when shit really hit the fan. At about 90 miles in everyone was feeling the effects of the heat and guys were going backwards fast. We went through the second feed zone full gas. Things finally settled down at around mile 100, which is where the “infraction” occurred.
It became clear that the officials were there to look after themselves and had no desire to take any action or investigate anything. It was the one official’s word against ours and his word was law. When it became clear that they had no desire to do anything about our complaints we left.
|Officials / Rules|
|Shawn Farrell||434-4264||Technical Director