The Virginia Beach Wheelmen had something to prove:
The Virginia Beach Wheelmen (VBW) really came together as a team this winter. We have also considered ourselves a team and not a club, but we are still amateurs with life that tends to get in the way. In the past we have had a few racers stay focus all year while others allow silly things like new babies, new homes, weddings, new jobs and opening new businesses to get in the way of cycling (I know crazy isn't it?) This year it looked like it was all coming together.
- Mike Tamayo decided cold or not, there was nothing to keep him off the bike this season. He religiously followed a winter training program I provided to him.
- John Gray got very motivated early. He took the CX season to take time off the bike. I coached him with weekly plans, strength and cross training. I have never seen him ride so well.
- Tim Shockley opened up his Shockley Sweet Shoppe store at the beginning of the year. This actually allowed him to quit his landscaping job and concentrate solely on his business. This change in duel concentration has allowed him to get in a good solid month of training and the promise of more miles to come. Tim was quickly riding himself back into top form.
- Zach Kyler has done his best to follow the training plan provided for him by me. He, however has battled the flu throughout the winter, especially last month. This illness has kept him from being consistent. He is a strong and motivated racer and it will not take him long to regain his form.
- Jon Nisbet, currently our only Cat 2 racer, has been busy with work and a new baby. Anyone who saw him during CX season knows that it doesn't take much for him to regain form. Jon is a natural talent and will get hungry for racing again.
- Then there is me. As the coach of the team I am just as concerned with everyone's form as I am with my own. I am exactly where I wanted to be. I put in a lot of time and feel I need to just work on race speed and I will be right there. That is what the early races are all about.
CAT 3/4 Race
All of us with the exception of Jon Nisbet lined up for the 3/4 race. We had our new, bright green helmets which received a lot of attention. We were ready. The plan: Have at least two riders at all times at the front. Make sure nothing escaped without us. We would rotate the riders through taking turns to cover. More importantly though, test out our legs by making some attacks of our own. Use this as a training race and see what we could do. If at the end it was a group sprint, we would form a leadout and try to get at least 2 racers in the top 5.
Everything went as planned except that Zach ended up getting dropped. That was okay, he didn't quit and continued to use the race as another step to getting his fitness back. The team was all very pleased to see him stay in. Mike and John did the majority of the work with attacks and chases. At all times you could see the aggressiveness of the bright green Rudy Project helmets. Tim and I both did a fair amount of work covering attacks, making attacks and just creating an aggressive presence in the pack. With just a few laps to go we started to get into position to create a leadout. Coming up to the bell lap, Mike, John and myself were right near each other with Tim just behind us. Then the crash happened. It separated the field. Mike barely managed to stay up and it really took him out. John wasn't prepared at this time for a big sprint because he had just launched an attack. Tim was a little too far back and got separated. I kicked it, yelled to John to get on my wheel. He said "keep it going". In other words he couldn't get on. I couldn't slow if I had any chance on catching the lead. So I kept going hard and caught the group just before the second turn. As we rounded the turn I gunned it again to pass the line and I got on the wheel of the two riders creating the leadout. The big effort left very little in my legs for a sprint and I ended up with 4th place. Not bad, but we had hoped for better. The other guys finished well, at least no one went down with the crash.
All of the VBW racers with the exception of Zach decided to double up. What a great way to get speed in your legs. Jon Nisbet didn't race at all because he was battling an illness. The race started with the idea that we were going to sit in and survive. The problem is that we are bike racers and a lot of times finishing in a pack with a large break up the road is not surviving. Once again we did our fair share of work with Mike and John pulling the most weight for the team. A four man break did get up the road and there was a lot of effort to catch them for a while. As far as us, Tim was the first to go. He got some good speed in his legs and some great training but it was a little too much for the miles he had under his belt. I was the next one. This actually surprised me. At no point during this race did I think I was going to drop. With about 14 laps to go, just before turn number 2, my legs cramped. It was a sudden cramp, both legs, quads, hamstrings and calves. I actually almost lost control of my bike. Luckily I was on the outside and was able to go outside the cones and just go straight. I couldn't pedal and I couldn't sit down. It took a long time to go away. That had never happened that bad before. Mike was next. With fewer than 5 laps to go his legs started to cramp and he couldn't work them out. John did very well and stayed in for the final sprint.
I am very excited about how the team did. It makes for a very promising season.