So, I was pretty amped for the state crit chumps. Sleevie was too, and I figured each of us was as good a shot at the win as anyone else, and we had some good wild cards to play by sending some of the rest of the team off the front as they are mostly all going well right now.
An unfortunate thing happened a few hours out from the race and Sleevie’s right shifter stopped functioning. We stopped at Canyon Draper for Jeremy to have a look, but the more he tinkered, the worse it got. The shifter is only a couple weeks old, so I’m pretty sure it’s a warranty deal. In any case, it didn’t work.
Here is where the day got hard for me, personally. Sleevie and Eric Moore ride the same size frame. Given the time constraints, there was no time to conjure up another bike for Sleevie and I made the call that Eric should let Sleevie ride his bike. I know I am going to take some heat for that call, regardless I am going to let the world in on my thought process.
We have an obligation to our sponsors to put the best team in to every race we can. And this race, being a state title, was particularly important. Sleevie was a better shot at winning the state title than Eric. I realize that sounds cold and if you want to hate me for it, so be it. I know we are a development team, and Sleevie is not that young, but I still view him as part of the development of the team. When you take out time away for injuries, he’s only been racing a couple years, and this was one of his best shots all year to win a big (by our standards) race, and score a fair amount of upgrade points. I will tell you that it was the hardest thing I’ve done since I started managing this team, but I stand by the decision.
The race went off okay. It was aggressive, but not terribly fast from the start. Lots of little groups going here and there. About a half hour in, Sleevie and Ben got in a ten person group that would eventually lap us with about a half-hour to go. Once they lapped, I just tried to keep Sleevie from having to do anything by sitting between 2nd and 4th wheel until the last lap. Overall, it was relatively easy to hold position. On the last lap, Cameron got a jump on Sleevie going into the last turn and held it for the V. He rode a great race. Sleevie was 2nd and Ali G 3rd. Sleevie was bummed and I had some thoughts as I felt he came around me a little early and I still could have put him in a better spot, but hindsight is always like that and he followed his instincts, which is all you can do in a sprint.
I reminded him that he’s only been on the bike a bit over two months, and he is already the 2nd best crit racer in the state (at least on the day), which is not such a bad record!
Personally, I had that feeling like I never really got to uncork all day, which kinda sucks, but I am content with the end result for the team.