Race Report by Kal Szkalak
Masters Nationals were held in Augusta, Georgia, this past weekend in the sweltering heat and humidity. The heat index for both of my race days was in the hundreds. Never mind, might as well race since I'm there anyway. First up was the road race, 44 miles and 3600 feet according to my Garmin’s elevation. It was a saw-tooth profile with no flat road at all. Some steeps at 9% with a climb to the finish of 1/2 a kilometer then a false flat and slight downhill for the last 400 meters. First lap of three went at old man’s pace, except the climbs which were brisk. The field broke up each climb, then came together on the downhills, then it ramped up hard beginning the second lap with attacks virtually every kilometer. It came down to 6 riders chasing 4 in the end, I was with the six. We caught the four (no thanks to two of our chasers) with 8-9 kilometers to go. We hit the 1 k marker and I went to the front hard but the rest, or at least most of them, went by hard. I was cooked and came in seventh. Everyone in the top ten came in as single riders, no two together. I finished 21 seconds back of the winner, which was gained in the last kilometer. Very few races in any group finished with multiple riders even close to each other.
Crit on Sunday on a pretty nice course downtown, one block from James Brown’s statue. It was a long rectangle with one brief, technical, section early in the lap and a long sprint section. My meat, so I felt good about it assuming those old men could stay on their bikes. Lots of attacking throughout but it was coming down to a sprint. Last lap I'm staying near but not on the front, we crossed the line and it went hard, soon the technical left, right, left, left, and sure enough some old guy threw himself into the hay bales. I made it by but was immediately gapped. I chased for the rest of the lap (2/3'rd) , dove the last two corners to get back up to 6th position and sprinted all the way in (300) meters. I passed four riders and threw the bike for a photo finish. Missed the win by a cm? Bit of a bummer I'd say. Thanks to the team and sponsors for the help getting out. On a side note I have to get my shoulder repaired soon so I may be out for a while from racing.