Tour of Fairbanks 2016- UAF Criterium.

At this point there were only two things I could possibly hope for:
1.) Finishing the stage race without a complete system shutdown, which was an iffy proposition.
2.) Doing well in Friday night's crit. While I couldn't push the pace or close down attacks with no sustained power in my legs, I did still have my top end.

The Masters 40+ pack was made up of diesels and skinny climber-types. I was the only douchebag in the group. With good positioning there was a chance I could do something there. All I had to do was hang on until the primes and finale came. It was a short crit, which worked in my favor, because my legs had about 45 minutes of effort in them before failure. Also working for me was that all of the stronger riders were riding for GC, metering out their efforts and playing the long game.

I, on the other hand, had nothing left to lose.

I spent the first part of the race sizing up the competition, seeing how the various characters reacted and looking for good wheels to follow. Mainly I looked for big riders to hide behind so I could conserve energy. I pulled for a lap or three during the race, to show my face with lukewarm efforts that allowed everyone to relax in the sun. Unfortunately, one of these came just before the sprint prime, and I had rotated to the back just before the bell rang. Cooked and unable/unwilling to move up during the lap, I started the sprint from the back. A little draft hopping and a moderate sprint took me to a distant third, which gave me a clear view of who did what.

When the next sprint came around (much later than I was anticipating), I had good position and launched for all I was worth. I laid down personal bests for five, ten, and twelve second power, taking the prime with a primal roar of exploding knee pain at the line. I had opened up a good gap, and onlookers yelled for me to press the attack, but I knew I didn't have the strength to hold off even the weakest of the remaining riders.

I faded back in and started picking my wheels, trying to quiet my popping knee and stifle the whimpers. As the last lap started I could sense riders behind trying to come around. A small, gradual movement to the left or right closed most of them down in the narrower sections of the course, but eventually Jim Winegarner jumped ahead and opened a small gap. Since he had taken second in the two primes, I knew he was dangerous. I was surprised when neither of the riders in front of me closed the gap, so I came out of the draft and closed it just before the last turn. I jumped again on the uphill drag and crossed the line with a comfortable margin over Jim.

The finish gap combined with the prime and finish bonuses added up to over 40 seconds. Man, with nine or ten more crits I could have dragged myself back into GC contention.

As it was, my Tour of Fairbanks experience was saved. No mater what happened in the remaining stages, I could chalk this one up as a good time. Amazing what a win will do for your spirits. Given what was all too likely going to occur that weekend, I needed the boost.

My douchebag status is secured for another year.


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