Not So Underground and Avondale Criteriums

The age of apprehension has ended. For the next several months, our weekends will be dominated by racing. Stories will be made. Legends will arise. Races will be won. Hills will be climbed. Sprints will be contested. You get the idea.

On the weekend of January 19, Team Winded lined up at the Not So Underground Criterium (Saturday) and the Avondale Criterium (Sunday). Both events enjoyed a solid racer and spectator turnout. We had fun. Let’s start with the NSU Crit:

Cat 5

Last year, Alejandro Larios joined our team as a nutritionist and chef. However, he is also a gritty rider with great potential. Larios entered his first race on Saturday, in a big cat 5 field. He positioned himself well throughout the race, keeping himself out of the wind. He gambled that the short race duration and hungry peloton would nulify any breaks, and the bet almost paid off. Tyler Arnett (Fleming Wealth Strategies) attacked late and just managed to hold off the pack. Alejandro sprinted in for 8th place.

Cat 4

Chris Magras and Thomas Keating raced. It was uneventful, as Ryan Milmoe (Trisports) took his first of two weekend wins.

Junior Women 15-18

We were proud to have 5 Winded riders in this typically miniscule field. Our full junior girls squad (Madi Cocuzza, Sam Harris, Mary Keating, Hailey Larson, and Jacey Stone) entered the race. Our competition was the ever present Lizzy Caputo. Our girls did well (for 4 of them it was their first race), but Lizzy expounded on her racing smarts to take the final sprint over Madi and Mary. It was a learning experience, and our girls showed that they have strength.

Junior Men 15-18

Scott Ford, Austin Crosby, Dorian Larios, Chris Magras, and Austin Swang lined up against a fast junior field. Landis, Strada, El Grupo, and our team had a rather balanced number of riders. Up-and-comer Tyler Stites (El Grupo) jumped off the front in the first lap. In the next two laps, a blitzkrieg of attacks followed. The breakaway group swelled to six riders, and Winded was not included.It all developed very quickly. Our boys kept chasing, but the break stayed away. We were disappointed to have missed it, but I give credit to my teammates for not sitting up. Of course, we must give credit to the other teams in the race. They had a good day on Saturday.

Cat 4/5

Thomas, Austin C, and the Larios brothers were active throughout. Dorian tried to break away, but the field wasn’t having any of that. A sprint decided the race, and amid the flurry Austin placed 8th, and Thomas placed 5th. Those are solid results, because they count toward the Cat 3 upgrade.

Cat 2/3/4

Josh Pratt-Ferguson, Scott Ford, and Jake Spelman represented us in this very speedy affair. The pack was aloof with countless rider capable of winning. We made a goal of following Nate “Hammer” Davis (Trisports) in the early goings and following Kenny “Win-Man” Polley (Landis) in the final laps. Contradictory to our plans, the two riders made the winning break… without us. Davis formed a move with Daniel “Passion” Parkman (Tolero) and Robert Krohn (Flagstaff Cycling). The peloton frantically chased the faction for several laps. A Carlos O’Briens rider bridged up. The gap still remained close. Polley bridged the gap with Brandon McNulty (Landis), and the breakaway’s lead increased thereafter. A great amount of drama in the break ensued in the closing stages in the race, but we do not have space in this blog for such stories. Scotty, Josh, and Jake finished in the pack, disappointed with not making the break but cognizant of future tactical adjustments.

In conclusion, the Not So Underground Crit was a learning experience. We moved on to Avondale.

Junior Women 15-18

Our ladies got our first official win of the season! Mary, Sam, Jacey, and Madi raced. Sam took the 15-16 win, and Jacey beat out her teammates for the 17-18 victory. It was an all-Winded race. Every victory starts with showing up, and everyone at the race knows that few other teenage girls have the motivation to suffer at such a horribly cold hour of the morning. A win is a win.

Junior Men 15-18

We had a huge numerical advantage: 6 riders in a 14 man field. Scotty and Austin C formed a breakaway with young Kyle Kent (Strada).  Kyle rode a great race. We played it conservatively once a big gap had been secured. Dorian bridged up to make it 3 on 1, but Kyle took a clear victory in the sprint.

We had a team discussion on how we could have managed the race better, and I’m certain that we will grow in light of analyzing the it. The boys have trained well, and it was reflected in their ability to sustain the break and block in the field. The races are just going to get better from here on. Nevertheless, we swept the 17-18 podium, with Team Captain Scott Ford in 1st, Dorian Larios 2nd, Austin C 3rd, Austin S 4th, and Chris 5th. Clayton took 2nd in the 15-16s.

Cat 5

Clayton was joined by Alejandro and Kaden Sherwood. In the closing laps, Alejandro took the role of Clayton’s leadout man. He piloted Clayton to the front and floored it during the last lap. Clayton exploded the gap that had been opened. He churned away from the pack in an impressive display of teamwork and violence. That was a special moment.

Cat 4 (Race 1)

We had Thomas, Dorian, and Braden Sherwood in this race, and they took pack finishes. They were extremely motivated for the second Cat 4 race.

Cat 2/3

Jake was our solo participant, and he tried the same tactics as Saturday’s. He intently followed Nate Davis’s wheel, but it came to no avail. The final jostle for position left Jake in a bad spot. He was disappointed with the result, but he knows that better opportunities are coming.

Cat 4 (Race 2)

Braden, Austin S, Austin C, Thomas, and Chris wanted to execute good teamwork in this race, and I think they did so. Crosby and Thomas raced aggressively, with Crosby taking a prime and forming a couple of nice gaps. As our sprinter, Braden stayed in the confines of the pack, fresh for a final dash to the line. Swang and Chris rode comfortably in the pack, but holding position proved to be a difficult task. Braden, Thomas, and Crosby placed 9th, 10th, and 11th, respectively. Getting two top 10s is a very tangible sign of progress; it puts Braden and Thomas one step closer to Cat 3.

Cat 3

Jake and Scotty raced to 10th and 26th place in a field sprint. Jake was in great position in the closing moments, but he hesitated, and you know what they say about hesitating. I think Jake is excited to get into technical crits and stage racing, and Scotty will thrive in the road races.

The Avondale crit went well. Again, there were moments we would like to have back, but you can only use the past as a tool for improvement. Thankfully, we have the chance to smooth out the wrinkles before the big races come. Thank you to Jay for slaving away to set up the RV, Tisha for her photography and cooking, Matt K for his photography, and the many parents who helped the team over the weekend. Also, it was good to see our ladies mentor Louisa Larson representing Team Winded in the elite women’s races and Team Coach Darrell Anderson racing in some of the fastest fields in AZ. I, for one, had a ton of fun and enjoyed watching my teammates and fellow bike racers engage in battle.

There are others to thank and plug, but they will have their moments soon. See you at the Bicycle Haus Crit!