Winghaven Race Report:
The team headed down to just west of St. Louis to do the Tour of Winghaven this past weekend. This is a large payout and the team was keen to do well. Rob White and I drove down on Sunday morning as the challenges of balancing family, work and racing can prove tough at times. We decided to compromise by being gone all day on Sunday. I think it is fair to say that both of us married VERY understanding women who clearly don't know how much better they could have had it. But, I digress...
While the sun appears to be in the sky each day, it actually lives just west of St. Louis and our race was held on it. It was roughly 100 degrees at the start, but at least it was crazy windy. We were to do 75 miles over 25 laps at a 2:30pm start. The scheduling of this event is interesting in that it is held the same day as Philly, so with one exception there were zero pros in attendance. This is good and bad. Good because we stand a nice chance to make some money, bad because we are good and marked accordingly. Essentially, this is a regional race with a huge prize list and extra motivation to make a little money.
Jeff S. got into an early move of 6 which proved the winner. The heat and wind helped temper the chase a bit and they rolled on and on to get a good gap. Unfortunately a second group noodled away with no ABD/Geargrinder representation. I will say however, that there were a couple of other teams that put nobody in either move which meant they were now racing for 12th at best. Again, maybe the heat and wind played a factor, but I was quite surprised by the lack of cohesive response. I asked one leader of these teams what gives and was told where I could go and how I could go there. While I don't think it is physically possible to do the things he suggested, I understood this to mean he was disappointed in the proceedings. Jeff's group and the second group rolled away quite quickly never to be seen again.
The remainder of the field beat up on each other for what seemed like two days and finally we got some guys into some field splits. Fortunately for everyone the laps were dwindling. Jeff S. and his group actually caught my pitiful little band and we were given a reprimand by the officials that we could not help our teammates and to stay out of the mix. This was disappointing because at that point, it was the sole reason I was still pedaling around this crazy course and no one else in my group had a rider in Jeff's group. While I am not sure this is an accurate ruling, I was not in a position to argue and/or ignore it and hope we were not disqualified. So, we stayed out of the way and I pulled out with 2 to go.
I find that Karma has a way of being kind sometimes. As a team, we respect our competitors and all associated with any event we attend. We have had a couple instances this year where the result may have suffered, but the team felt we did things the right way. It is my feeling that this paid huge dividends as with 1.5 laps to go Jeff crashed. John Meyers happened to be right by him and was able to give his wheel to Jeff to prevent what could have been a disaster (Reason one why I am not convinced on the above ruling). Amazingly, Jeff was able to catch his group and still beat two of the guys in it. I am quite certain that had Jeff not crashed, he would have pummelled the lot for the win. The only pro in the field won the race and the subsequent large check while Jeff ended 4th. Rob and Ryan rounded out the placings for cash and that was that.
Overall I think the team is coming together nicely. We have a good balance between young (John, Brett and Andy), mid (Josh, Rob, Ryan and Jeff) and old (me). Thanks goes especially to Julie Carter who fed the whole bunch of us all by herself in addition to "communicating" (read: yelling) at us over the radio. I think she likes bossing us around, but she did not have to provide such diligent feeds when we missed that second group.
Thanks for reading.