Last weekend, the team headed down to Little Rock to start our season at the Cross Winds Classic. We had 7 guys out of the field of more than 60 Cat 1/2 riders, set to race 5 laps of the flat 13-mile course. The temperature was in the low 50s throughout the race and the wind was 10-15 mph out of the southeast. One issue that comes with the first race of the season is remembering how to dress for these early season races where the temperature falls somewhere in between warm and cold. I went with knee warmers and arm warmers and that kept me comfortable throughout the race.
The first 2 laps were all about positioning as several short-lived moves attempted to establish a breakaway. The second time we hit the wind on the east side of the course I found myself way too far back along with a few other teammates. By the time we got up near the front, a group of 20 had split off the front of the main field. Ben Gramling and I along with a few guys from other teams worked to bring it back together. We rejoined the front of the race just as we turned to head north toward the finish line at the end of the 2nd lap. Just a few minutes later, a rider from the Pastaria – Big Shark team (I think) attacked. A soon as I saw Andy Chasteen (DNA) and Hunter East (OKC Velo) going across, I knew this was a break we needed to be in. Once we had established the break early in the 3rd lap, we had 10 riders from 9 different teams and plenty of horsepower. We worked fairly well together and had a lead of over 2 minutes at the start of the final lap.
The attacks started coming when we hit the wind on the final lap, but nobody was able to open up a significant gap. I knew there were way too many guys in the group with a faster finish than me, so I tried a few times to get away and use the tailwind to my advantage inside the final 3 miles, but there were just too many strong guys in the group for me to stay away. In the end, the sprint opened up from a long way out and Brendan Housler (I Am Racing) was able to hold off Andy Chasteen and Hunter East for the win. I came across the line in 9th. In the main field, Richard Holt took the field sprint for 13th by a pretty large margin over Brice Jones (Walmart) and Ben Craig was close behind for 15th.
I want to give a big shout-out to our sponsors Tyson Foods, Shoulder Center of Arkansas, The Bike Route, Clif Bar and Creative. Also, a big thank you to CARVE who put on a great race. We might not have gotten the result we wanted, but it was great to get out there and race after the long off-season. For several of the guys it was our first time racing together as teammates, and I’m looking forward to a fun racing season with this team.
Distance: 64 miles
Average Speed: 26.7
Average Watts: 270
Calories: 2129 kj
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