By Sal Scotto
Racing has kicked off for 2010!
I’m now two races into my season. Leading up to these first contests, I’ve done mainly base miles here around Phoenix, with an occasional group ride down in Tucson. I’ve been concentrating on time and volume, with no real intervals—unless sprinting from the occasional chasing dog that gets free from a yard.
MY FIRST RACE was a 90-minute criterium just outside of Phoenix. At the start line were teams like Kenda p/b Gear Grinder, Jelly Belly, Bahati, and about 15 Bicycle Haus riders. Fifteen is a little ridiculous for one squad, but it made for plenty of action. The course was about a kilometer long and had two turns with a large bending semicircle.
There was no need ever to touch the breaks, and the speeds reflected that. There were constant counterattacks, and no break stuck for more than a lap or two. The final lap was strung out, and I was sitting about eighth wheel coming around the last turn.
In the final turn I got involved in an elbowing match and slowed a bit with not much of a chance to fully recover the momentum to contest. That’s racing, and it was my fault for not being in a better position for such a quick course.
I ended up eighth overall, but the objective of a quality speed workout was most important.
THE SECOND RACE was the University of Arizona criterium down in Tucson. Once again, the usual suspects of riders showed up with a mix of pros and amateurs.
The course was an L shape with a slight uphill on the back half. The race was short, about 60 minutes, and my goal was to get solid interval training. I wanted to start off firing and continue firing throughout, as well as test some bridging effort if an opportunity arose.
The pace was fast and didn’t disappoint. About halfway through a break of four got about 10 seconds, and this was perfect for a solid bridge effort. I waited till the riders at the front of the field decided to slow and, just as they started to turn back to look at the field, I barreled between the front two guys and started the bridge effort.
It took about a lap, but I made the bridge and the goal was accomplished. About three laps later the field caught up, and it was all back together.
With about 10 minutes to go another group of four got off the front and had about a five second gap. At this time they switched the lap timer to lap cards and posted a “5” on the card. The group dangled in front still, and I knew it was time to line up for the sprint.
I was sitting in fourth wheel in the line, and as we came around for what was supposed to be “4” to go, they rang the bell for the final lap. (Later, the event gents would explain that they meant five minutes to go on the cards.)
The group of four put it into overdrive and the field started hard pursuit after the grim news. I stayed in the pocket with riders on my sides but still in good position. The group of four was caught just as they hit the line, and I held on for eighth overall (full results).
I have one more criterium left before I do Valley of the Sun in the second week of February to test the longer road days. I’m pleased with my progress so far.
And I’m foaming at the mouth to get my chance in Belgium.
T minus two months.
Sal Scotto is a Cat. 1 racer who, after racing in Brooklyn, New York, the past few years, landed an opportunity to race in Belgium in 2010 with team Baboco. He’s preparing for Europe by training in sunny Arizona. Read CyclingReporter.com’s recent interview with Scotto here.