This weekend I got my first taste of NRC racing in America. The Dana Point GP race on sunday was a 90min crit round a fast but very technical circuit in the streets of Dana Point, with a huge crowd and the top US teams present it was a pretty big event and had an awesome atmosphere. Bike Religion was fielding a pretty strong team in the pro field with all our riders present including US track Olympian Gideon Massie who was just kicking off his road racing season. Another kool part of the day was having some fellow kiwis in the field with Mike Northey, Patrick Bevan and Roman Van Uden lining up for their Rubicon-Orbea team.
So far what I have noticed in the racing i have been doing over here so far is that the closer to the front you ride the easier it is, also it means you can slip into breaks when the opportunity presents itself. So thats pretty much what i did for the whole race, even though most of my training has been aimed at the longer, hillier tours coming up i still had the power to be a part of the race. I followed a couple of moves early on, though nothing was getting much room from the bunch. I also stayed handy to contest some of the primes and picked up some sweet oakleys along the way. After about an hour of racing there was a Bissel and a NOW-MS rider up the road, i was near the front of the bunch so took the opportunity to jump across, i got over by myself and found we had a decent gap. The NOW-MS rider didnt last long and so it was just two of us, we pushed pretty hard and stayed away for a good 15min making it the longest break of the whole race but the bunch never let up and we got brought back with about 15min left to race. I slipped back into the bunch thinking my race was over after that hard effort but it didnt take me long to recover and move up into position. The last 10 laps were pretty crazy with guys going everywhere as everyone wanted to be up front, i stuck up there and tried to go off the front again with 3 laps to go just as a massive pile up had happened in the bunch, but UnitedHealth had 5-6guys riding the front and with one of them just sitting on my wheel we werent going anywhere so i was back in the bunch and trying to hold position going into the final lap. The sprint pretty much started as we got halfway round the lap, i moved past a few guys in the back straight and then a few more coming out of the last corner to cross the finish line in 9th place.
Although it was a pretty dodgy race with alot of riders taking unessascary risks along the way i had a good time, it was really exciting and i felt just as strong as anyone in the field. After doing these kind of races for the last few weeks i feel im finding my place in the bunch and riding alot more comfortably so hopefully it wont be long till i can convert all these top tens into a podium or a win!!
Check out this link for a good video view of the last few laps…watch out for me in the white kit with the black helmet mixing it up at the front..http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ycem7bHeGic