Banana Belt #3

It was perfect wether for wrapping up the Banana Belt series at Henry Hagg Lake. Reports from the various Cats:

Mens Pro/I/II:
Catherine L Cooper: 2013 Banana Belt 3 &emdash; We had nothing to lose in regards to the series so we had a open game plan to look for opportunities. I was thinking that we might start off a little slower but no such luck, the attacks came fast and furious within the first two miles.  We had a decent crew of 6.  In the first couple laps Alex & Erik were in the first credible moves with a good combination of other teams represented.  Unfortunately there were several smaller teams with some power to pull each back.  On lap 3 Erik made another credible move but it got pulled back and a counter surge occurred that looked to have one of our guys but it was Capo and a couple HPC and a couple other unknowns, no TAI, we were forced to chase hard for over a lap to catch them.  I was extremely impressed with some of Casey’s pulls at the front, along with Brant, Erik & Mike who also did a incredible amount of work.

On lap 4 there was a bit of a lull in the attacking and chasing so HPC Steven Bedford rolled off the front solo and then almost casually Alex, Capo, Sizzle Pie rolled off to Join Bedford shortly after.  It was the perfect combination of strong teams in the break represented, Unfortunately the Sizzle Pie guy sizzled out early and retired from the break and HPC Bedford was apparently not feeling well, so didn’t have much to contribute to the break. So all the work was left up to Alex and the Capo rider to stay away.  On lap 5 they got a pretty good gap and appeared to be long gone with TAI HPC CAPO controlling the front but lap 6 the fireworks started with riders like Pro MTB Carl Dekker, Tim Rienhart, Gentle Lovers and few others that missed out.  The field exploded the 6th time up the Dam climb from a attack from Dekker, Pow! Only 10 riders could hang on and the rest were left to chase including Brant, Mike, Casey and myself.  With some hard work and long pulls from Casey only a handful made it back to the front group a 1/2 lap later.

That hard attacking finally was whittling down Alex’s lead so what was left of our peloton rejoined Alex the 7th and final time up the Dam climb. I felt really bad for Alex the break didn’t stick. So the remaining 20 or so riders were left to duke it out for the sprint. Well I’m pretty sure Beardsley got the sprint as he just followed wheels all day and was freshest. Brant was 6th after a lot of work and Erik 10th. Casey, Alex and myself meant 5 TAI in the top 20 at the end of a grueling day.

We played our cards, worked very well together and left it all on the road  as a “team” and that to me is Success!! -David Root Elite Team Director

Cat III Women:
Catherine L Cooper: 2013 Banana Belt 3 &emdash; Strategy: Heading into BB#3, I am tied for 3rd in the series with several riders not too far behind. My goal is to beat the woman I am tied with and to limit my losses to anyone behind me to win 3rd place for the series.Each week, the pack has split the first time up dam hill (and I have not been in the front group). I decide to attack early, solo across the dam, and ride the dam hill at my own pace. If I’m lucky, some of my competition will get dropped on the dam hill!As we start out, I’m nervous and second-guessing my plan. If they chase me down I’ll have wasted energy. If I go hard now will I be toast later?  Maybe I can hang onto the front pack without attacking?

In the end, I go for it! Attacking hard over Lee Hill, I get into an aero tuck down the hill. I got a good jump and am away cleanly! I steal a glance behind me and no one seems to be chasing. I hammer up the dam hill medium-hard.  They catch me over the top and get in the pack easily.  Sweet! And the woman I was tied with didn’t make it up the hill – though several others did.

UEF has by far the most riders and they’re attacking. I’m helping chase on flats/downhills and chilling in the pack on the climbs. Late in the lap on an uphill, the pack splits and I’m in the second group. The split is along familiar lines as previous weeks, and the women I’m most concerned about are with me. Based on previous the two BB races, I’m doubtful we’ll re-catch the front group. Still, we keep the pace high in hopes of catching stragglers from the front group. We have three UEF riders in our group and eventually they start attacking – though they don’t seem to get far.

One UEF rider who is close behind me on points has been having shifting issues all race.  The last time up the dam hill, she drops her chain again and falls off the back for good.  I wanted to beat her, but preferably not that way.

Finish: On previous laps I noticed there’s a headwind into the finish. An early attack (usually my best bet) probably won’t work. I get a bit lucky as we line up and get the wheel I want – sweet! Someone up front jumps and I’m hanging on, but when the hill starts and I lose contact – drat! I finish toward the back in our group, but luckily not too far behind the women who could beat me on points.

Analysis: Tallying the results, I held onto 3rd place for the Cat3 Women Banana Belts series! -Sarah Tisdale

Cat IV Men: 
After 3 fairly uneventful laps (other than my wasting energy at/near the front keeping an eye on the young bucks taking flyers), I started to wear out a bit. I slid off ever so slightly on one of the climbs after the dam, got back on. Deep in the tunnel, I heard the fateful sound and see 2 small explosions of people going airborne. The beauty of going so slow is that I missed the carnage. Quick scan and no John down, no one obviously bleeding or unconscious, and time to start trying to catch back on(the crash was behind the leaders).

John comes flying up w 2 guys, I catch on. Last climb before the final climb I slide off again slightly, and another guy who was having the same “almost there” troubles comes flying up as we hit the false flat. I grab his wheel by sheer luck and somehow it turns into a lead out at 200k. Turn myself inside out sprinting to the finish, picking off a couple more guys but don’t catch John who got 6th and I got 8th. Needed about 10minutes to stop wanting to puke.

Nice race John! – Aaron Even

Masters Men I/II/III:
After a long winter mostly off the bike, I got to work a few weeks back and decided to see how my fitness was coming along. I was the lone TAI rider in the bunch, with HPC, Ironclad fielding full crews and Bike Attorney, Hutches and a couple others having at least 3 guys.

The first lap was pretty pedestrian, with a lone ranger taking a flyer off the front. Nobody seemed to mind. Second lap was for points, so the pace went up pretty quick, and we brought the guy back. Somewhere in the middle of the race, while most were grabbing snacks and refueling, Dave Campbell (Hutches), Tom Ghilarducci (Bike Attorney) and a unattached, snuck off the front and put some pretty serious time into the dwindling bunch. We were running out of K’s and it was next to impossible to get HPC, Ironclad, or most anyone to work. Myself and a couple others would go to the front, take huge, fast pulls, and no one would come through, though the efforts were bringing the break back bits at a time.

We had them in sight at the dam. Going up it the 5th time, I got just off the back, dug deep, caught the group, and carried through to the front again, stringing everyone out, and finally catching the break at the 3K marker. Legs shot, I knew for certain there was no way I was going to out-sprint everyone that had been hiding out all day. We slowed to a crawl, everyone watching each other, so at the “Red Kite”, I took a flyer hoping for the best. 100M to go, legs completely shot, I get swallowed up, and shot out the back. So while I only placed 20th, I’m pleased with the day, considering I went into it with the plan of being happy if I stayed with the bunch for 3-4 of the 5 laps. It’ll come. -Don Joling Development Team Director

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