Monday, August 30, 2010
SMU at HHH
Many SMU cyclists were at the HHH (Hotter than Hell Hundred) in Wichita Falls. Recent past-President of the SMU Cycling club Noah Buck rode the 100 miles with colleagues from Aviall, Associate Provost Tony Tillman battled the wind for 100 miles, SMU English Prof Bruce Levy finished another 100, Dancer, now B-School student Dallas Blagg did his first century ride and Mina Pizzini, Caryn Montague, Buzz Navatani, Frank Cusimano and Nicky Boulle had a full weekend slate of USA Cycling races.
Friday night was the P12 race, men's and woman's. The woman's race saw reigning Collegiate crit champion and hometown hero Jenn Purcell win, exciting the Wichita Falls' fans. She rides for Hotel San Jose, based in her new home in Austin. Jenn used to do the Wednesday world's rides with us, and was known as "Plow Girl" due to her ability to plow through some strong guys. Many at the finish were unaware that Jenn was the same girl who used to thrash them just a few years earlier. Dallas BikeWorks' Boyd Wallace had to convince some of these same guys that yes, that this superstar cyclist and the former bike messenger, were one in the same. There isn't a more deserving person than Jenn Purcell to reap benefits from hard work, as well as being a very nice person. Chapeau!
The men's race was the usual mix of breaks and catches with a new group off the front every lap. Despite the exciting atmosphere and long tradition of HHH races just outside the MPEC center in downtown Wichita Falls, the TxTough race in Dallas has a much better setting for spectators. With the high def screens allowing spectators to catch all the action, and having the AA center as a backdrop, the ebb and flow of the race is easier to follow. The 2 time and defending winner of the Dallas Tx Tough race, Heath Blackgrove, was seen at the front often here in Wichita Falls, until he was involved in a crash just beyond the start finish line. The Hotel San Jose rider had numerous rips and tears in his jersey and shorts, with evidence of copius road rash exposed. He returned to the field despite his injuries and worked with his San Jose teammates like nothing happened. The team was obviously trying to set up a victory for Josh Carter, also reigning Collegiate crit champion and the husband of the HHH race director and head of MSU cycling, Julie Carter.
Jonny Sundt, of the Kenda pro team and East Dallas resident (living on the same street as Jenn Purcell did 10 years earlier) was feeling great after a summer of extensive racing (Tour of Taiwan, Elk Grove, TNC's and Ginny King's Thursday Night Crits) He saw the race unfold before him and felt that adrenaline rush of a probable victory, only to get taken out two corners from the finish by a San Jose train that derailed. Nicky Boulle's team mate from Park Place Dallas Racing emerged. surprisingly victorious, unscathed by the last corner debacle. Despite his summer of discontent, often felled by a respitory ailment, Nicky looked very strong in the race, always in the first third of the nearly 100 racers.
Saturday was the road races, which had many different categories that define USA Cycling's myriad of races. The finish line was bereft of news regarding these races, usually hearing scant information until the cyclists were just a few kilometers away. Judging by the discussions after the finish, the men's 35+ and the P12 race and the Cat 3 race had extensice carnage on the course, either from feed zone mishaps or late race tiredness causing mental lapses.
Frank said he was well placed to contest the sprint, but one cat 3 racer misjudged the last corner (or didn't read the race bible to know a turn was imminent after the overpass was crossed) and caused a big gap to develop, ruining the chances for some of the favorites, Frank included.
Nicky's race was won by Russ Walker of TxTough/Metro VW in a runaway, an impressive victory by a former winner (2005) Walker dangled off the front by about 10 seconds and before the P1/2 guys knew it, he was 45 seconds away. A windy section loomed and the peloton thought here was where the catch would be made and they worked hard, only to hear Russ was now 2 minutes clear. "WHAT?!" Nicky rolled in with the rest of the well beaten Pro 1/2 field
Mina and Jenn worked very effectively together (as friends should,) neither had a team mate in the race. Jenn used her powerful sprint to win again, while Mina rolled in 3rd. Mina said her job was to make sure no breaks formed that Jenn was not in. Interestingly both friends are Collegiate champions, Mina while at Penn, Jenn the current Collegiate crit champion.
Caryn's race was her first road race as a licensed rider, and planned to let no one get away, this being her birthday race. Little did she know that only a few woman would do any work. OBU's Meredith Vernon, Dallas Racing's Sarah Wells, the Bicycles Plus rider...the Metro VW....all chased the numerous attacks by Colavita's Cindy Phillipi. Cindy is recovering from shoulder reconstruction and has a hard time sprinting, so she knows her best chance is to escape. As things settled in to a routine, these girls and Caryn did most of the work, with the soon to be infamous Oklahoma eXfuze team nowhere to be seen, except at the back. Rockwall's Kathy Weldon was on strict orders from her coach to stay away from the front, and let others do the work, hence the relativly tame 21mph avg.
At the feedzone, Caryn and Bicycles Plus girl had a hard time snagging water bottles. Caryn's first grab fell to the ground, the next flew over her head, another she almost took out one of the feed zone volunteers and with one final opportunity, it was slow down, then carefully, pinch it, whew! After the drink, Sarah rides up next to Caryn and said, "Feed Zones are not supposed to be a contact sport!" causing Caryn to spit out the precious water with laughter, negating much of the needed hydration. The Bicycles plus girl said, "No one behind me is getting any water" You can always trust Sarah to make the funniest comment of the day. Brandi was very prepared for a hot day, and with 10 miles to go announced, "I'm ready for this to be over, I need to pee." caryn then said, "Maybe that will make you go faster."
Just over the overpass with a mile to go, this Oklahoma team went to the front, then peeled apart like a banana, sending two girls up the road and blocking (or worse, cutting everyone else off.) With excessive braking to avoid this blocking tactic, the race to the finish was all but over, with Colavita's Cindi Philippi able to get 2nd place behind the Oklahoma team's questionable methodology. Caryn 4th,just outsprinting Kathy Weldon, Brandi LaFleur, Meredith Vernon and Kaely Simpson, all of whom complained about the near carnage due to the manner in which eXfuze raced.
Sunday was a different crit course, set up around the MPEC parking lot. The start finish line was the Michelob Ultra stage, set up by SMU's own Preston Smith. As I bring Caryn's wheels to the SRAM neutral pit, I see Alex Gibson of TCU in a breakaway, and yell "Go Frogs!" then see an SMU rider that I don't know just behind. Awkward moment indeed. It is our triathlon club's Buzz Nanavati trying his hand at road races and looking good doing it.
I ran into Frank, who had a race later, and we discussed his weekend. He was also on the phone with Nicky, trying to get some advice to Buzz, such as click up one gear, stay hidden, etc.
I took a lot of pictures of Buzz and Alex, who both seemed well placed to win the race but both let Brent Aston get away for the win. Learning curve for the two really talented time trialists.
Caryn and Kathy, along with the MSU girls all had to repin their numbers, the lying race bible! Sarah was just a bit late so I had to try my hand at putting her number on. These Cat 4 girls had to line up with the likes of Metro's Lauren, San Jose's Jenn, and Austin Flyer Sheri Rothe, all accomplished and experienced pro girls.
A rough and tumble start saw the 4's try to settle in a comfortable spot, unaware that they would be pulled at the slightest gap. Caryn realised too late that she should have followed Kaelly Simpson when she went to close an early gap, thinking Meredith Vernon would chase, but both would regret that lapse. Kaelly stayed close enough to the P123 girls to be awarded an abbreviated victory, while Caryn sprinted with her group, claiming 4th on the day. As all of the confusion was sorted out, Caryn finished 2nd in the Cat 4 omnium to Kaelly, formerly of Nebraska Lincoln and now a Lakewood (east Dallas) resident. A podium was some consolation for Caryn's mixed bag of a weekend.
We left after the race, but Nicky was called upon to try to give his team mate the omnium for the weekend, but his numerous efforts all weekend fried all of the Park Place guys. Frank finished a commendable 8th in his race later in the afternoon.