FHR was able to bring home its first road win of the season on Saturday at the Grandview Heights Criterium. Carney, Rife, Josh, Alex, Scott and I saddled up for one of the last races of the season - and we were greeted by the warmest weather of the summer. 97 degrees with heat indices ten degrees warmer. HOT.
As we had heard, the Grandview course was a good one - a seven corner, one mile loop through a terrific little Lancaster neighborhood. Residents were out in force cheering on all of the riders - some even had cardboard cutouts of Lance, dressed up blow-up dolls, and thankfully a few homes had nice sprinkler systems (hoses) shooting out onto the street for us to ride through and cool off a bit.
This race has been won by Danny Fry of Lancaster Brewing for the last two years - his secret to success was to attack early and start an early break. A move like that could quickly get out of sight of the pack because of all the corners around the course. Knowing that, we had to be ready for such a move. Although Fry wasn't in attendance, two of his teammates, Justin Waynick and Sez, were. Sure enough, on the second lap of the 22 lap race, two riders attacked the field. With a quick move, Alex pulled me to the front of the group and launched me right up to the leaders. Justin came with and just like that, a group of 5 were off the front. In the next few laps our lead grew, but not by much. The five of us in the break were working together quite well and we were confident the move would stick, that is if the heat didn't kill us.The Break forms
Meanwhile, back in the main pack, Josh, Rife, Alex, Scott and Carney had made their way to the front and were shutting down any attempts from riders trying to close the gap to the break. With 12 laps to go in the race, our breakaway group had chiseled out a 35 second lead - still a small gap with that far to go, so we pressed on, each taking equal turns to increase our lead. At 9 laps to go, one of our breakaway companions couldn't hold the pace and fell out of the group, so it was down to four of us. We continued to take equal turns at the front and with 6 laps to go our lead over the pack had grown to over a minute.FHR on the Front and Blocking
It was time for me to start thinking about the finish of the race. I knew I wanted to attack our group before the finish to try to get away solo or at least shed another rider or two. With four laps to go, I rolled up next to Justin and asked him if he wanted to put in an attack to try to drop the other two riders - He was up for it, so approaching the end of that lap, Justin shifted down and jumped hard. Anticipating the move, I was right on his wheel and pulled through to keep the pace good and high. Success - we immediately dropped one of our group and it was down to three.
Now it was really time to figure out my finish, with only a trio left I really wanted to take this win. All three of us remaining seemed equally strong, so I didn't want to gamble with a solo move. It was all going to come down to the sprint and I knew I wanted to start it from the back, hopefully catching the others off guard. That was my plan and I stuck to it. Heading into the final corner of the race, I drifted back off the other two riders, letting a ten yard gap open. As we rounded the last corner entering the home straight, Justin put in a quick attack to lure us into leading it out. As soon as he sat back into his saddle and the pace slowed, I went - taking both by surprise.
Head down and in the 53x12 I rolled to the finish for the win.
It was awesome to win this one - not so much for myself, but for the team. We've all been working so hard this year as a team - we definitely deserved a victory.