There's one day left in the Tour of Austin. Thursday was a criterium prologue at the Driveway in East Austin. I forwent the primes in favor of focusing on the finish line, ever conservative. It did not pay off. A breakaway of six riders bolted at the gun and the exhausted pessimists in the pack, myself included, both allowed them to go and also for their teammates to sit on the pace so we couldn't catch them. They built nearly 30 seconds on us in a technical course that strongly favored them. I managed to sprint for fourth in the bunch and got 8th overall.
Yesterday was the road race in Manda, near New Sweden Texas. Far East Austin. Were Austin the world, Manda would have a thriving opium trade. As it is, Manda has a thriving Lutheran Church. Semantics. The race was drizzly and cool. On the start line, one could hear the shrill exhales of tire pressure as each rider prepped his front tires for the slick turns. The pace was pedestrian and over-cautious. It kept the entire field together for the sharp and narrow and slick turns, which, combined with very green road racers made for three crashes one of which included my good friend and teammate Aaron Haspel. The race ended with a massive bunch sprint marred by quite founded allegations of cheating. Scores of riders were relegated for repeatedly crossing the centerline (a racing rule which prevents cyclists from passing into opposing traffic) in more brazen fashion than I've ever seen. I finished 11th out of the 75-man field after spending the last 3k as third man. I don't regret my time up front, though it was unwise to wait with a school of aspiring Cavendishes in tow.
Today was the Pickle Crit named for the course at the far North Austin UT JJ Pickle Research Labs. The course was tight with 10 ninety-degree turns on well manicured roads. Again, great hesitation from the pack. The diligence with which these young men wait, you'd think we were at a Christian youth conference. Classic promise ring racing. In all fairness to the field, they trounced me. I finished 22nd of the 56-man field after failing to chase down a solo breakaway for the final two laps. I managed to score a pound of coffee, though, for winning the first prime and some overall omnium points for placing 3rd in the final prime.
Very clear lessons learned from these three days. The satisfaction from very hard work Thursday and today, with the support of my wife and teammates gives me confidence for tomorrow's eStigma race. What I'm told is a very technical course should be the perfect place for a hard worker. I get to race one more day with Aaron and Lauren will be there too, which makes for ideal racing conditions.