Arsenal Crit 7/15 - By Keith Hatton

This past sunday was Arsenal Crit set up by the good ole boys from Quaker City Wheelmen. The weather seems to just bring the heat continuously, and Sunday was no exception. I was signed up for the category men's 3 of 25 laps on a quick 6 corner "L" shaped flat course in the Naval Yard of Philadelphia. It seemed there were only about 30 of us at the start line and unfortunately Alan was unable to attend as he was off at the hospital with our team mate Saleem making sure he was looked after. So, at the start things started the way most category 3 races do, someone sprints off the line to get the "hole shot" into the first corner. The pace stayed up pretty decently in the beginning for a few laps and Dan from Bicycle Therapy ran off the front for a few laps. As the raced progressed it seemed Bicycle Therapy was looking to push the pace and try to cause a break with having their guys attack and counter here and there. There were a couple short lived breaks, in which I rolled into with Gerry on two accounts but the rest of the guys weren't organized enough to widen the gap caused. As we rolled through the first Prime Dan was up off the front getting winning the Beer Prize by a bike length or two, two more guys bridged to him after turn two, Steve from Guy's Cycling and Brett from Drexel. After seeing this attack I thought it a great time to get into a break just after the prime as the field sat up a bit to be able to attack through it. As I bridged to the other three riders, Dan seemed to be dying off the back of it from his previous attack efforts, As I wanted him in the break because his other 4 team members would then block the field for us I attempted to drag him back into the break but it seemed he was a bit too tanked. Getting up the other two guys we quickly worked on trying to organize an effort to get away. After a lap or two getting within a 10 second gap from the field Brett fell off leaving Steve and I to put the hammer down and stick the break with about 15 laps of the 25 to go. The course was a quick shorter ride with 90 degree turns into mostly two laned roads. Much better for a small group to roll through then a larger group to chase. From this Steve and I dug in and planted corners to get about a 25 second gap on the field. With 5 laps to go the field had started to organize a bit and was chasing us down with almost a 15 second gap where we decided we put too much in at this point and were determined not to get so we took a deep breath and charged on again to get the gap back up to about 18 to 20 second range. As we came through to start the second to last lap they rang the bell for the last prime of the race and seemed steve thought it was the final lap and sprinted for it. I, foolishly, let him know it was not the last lap and we kept it together for the last lap in which I should have then attacked him after he sat up to win the race. We then rolled into the last straight away and he saw me stand up to attack for the line and was able to respond in time to stay ahead of my wheel as I started to cramp in my calves from finishing my water earlier in the race and came in just behind him in the sprint for second place overall. I think I mostly rode a decent race, seeing that breakaways are my favorite thing to be in in a race as I am not the biggest sprinter out there, I prefer a smaller group of select riders. I learned a big thing about finishing races as of late with everything, this one especially about knowing the lap count and where to stick what. I now know, after he sat up I should have attacked and out cornered him to the finish as I was out cornering him during our time off the front. It was a fun race, but I should have won. I guess there's always next weekend...