Changing Tactics When The Wind Blows
The first “real” Floyd Bennett Race took place last Tuesday. By real I mean the howling winds that define FBF racing were in full effect. I knew it was going to be a tough night of racing when the signs I place around the course were blowing over and the small cones were being tossed around.
Here are my thoughts on the races:
Epic. Warriors. This is bike racing. Just a few of the words to describe the race. When the wind blows, the hardmen come to the front. And the sprinters? They need to change their tactics. You see, the FBF sprinters (you know who you are) like to sit in the back and wait for the final lap. That tactic works fine on a calm night. But last Tuesday was anything but calm. What the sprinters need to realize is that just because a race is hard doesn’t mean you can’t do well. There are no climbs on the course. It’s all about positioning when the wind picks up. It’s actuallly EASIER to stay in the top 20 on a windy night rather than staying in the back and closing gap after gap of riders who are getting popped. That means when the race starts you immediately have to go to the front and stay there. Period. True to form, the race was decided early with a lead group establishing itself. A few riders were caught off-guard including Stalin Quiterio who rarely misses a key move. In the end the hardmen made the race tough and took advantage of the windy conditions.
Cat 3-4 Race
This race should have gone the same way as the Pro/1-2-3 race, right? After all, the wind was the same for everybody. Nope. This is what I don’t get about Tuesday's Cat 3-4 race. Where are the endless series of attacks and counter-attacks? Why wasn’t this race single file and blown to bits like the Pro/1-2-3 race. Look at the above photo - that's the Pro/Cat 1-2-3 race being shredded in the crosswind section. Lots of strong riders in the Cat 3-4 race but in the end you “gave” the race to 55+ year old sprinter James Joseph. And that’s a compliment to JJ - it’s not his job to get dropped, it’s the other stronger, younger, “I have no hope of ever beating JJ in a fieldsprint” riders who must make the race so hard that JJ gets dropped or if he does stay in the field he has zero left for the sprint. Lap after lap an almost intact field came across the line. Even 14 year old junior rider Parker Chea was riding confortably in the field. It’s almost like there was a mindset of “ok guys, it’s windy - let’s stay together for protection”. Huh? What’s that about? Like I always say: this is bike racing, not bike riding. And if you are in the race thinking “I’m on the rivet, there is no way I can attack now”, here’s a newsflash: EVERYBODY is on the rivet in a windy race and EVERYBODY is thinking the same way. Windy racing is like the late rounds of a pro boxing match as the fighters are exchanging blows until they have nothing left. You guys should have been attacking and counter-attacking until the elastic snapped. After all, what are you waiting for? JJ to kick your ass in the sprint? Again? Here’s a good example: with a lap to go it looked like the Pro/1-2-3 race was going to catch the 3-4 race from behind. Incredibly, that means they had gained just about 4 minutes on the Cat 3-4 race in about 20 miles. I hopped in my van to follow the 3-4 race on their final lap in case I had to neutralize the Pro/1-2-3 race from catching you. In my van I was able to see how the last lap played out. What did I see? No attacks. No single-file “in the gutter” splits in the crosswind section between turns 3-4. This is where every rider who has never beaten JJ in a sprint should have given one last attack in the final 1-2 minutes of racing. Keep this in mind for the next race. Congrats again to James Joseph - a great win on a tough night.