2015 Urbana Grand Prix – Cat 4/5 and 3/4 – Ryan Harden

My race report(s) are kind of boring.

I spent the last two weeks fighting off a cold and/or traveling for work. Needless to say, my preparations for the race were somewhat behind where I'd prefer they be. I landed at CMI late Thursday, rode 50 miles on Friday and then 40 miles on Saturday. My hope was to reteach the legs what riding a bike felt like without completely blowing them up before race day.
I entered the first race of the day with the first goal of not crashing and second goal of finishing in the lead group. I was lucky enough to accomplish both, in both races. I was about 5 wheels behind Chris for his first crash. I didn't see the cause but got a great view of his somersault into the grass. I narrowly avoided his bike as it tumbled in front of me. I spent the next few laps just hanging on while Jeff pushed the pace on the front. It didn't take very long to shed about 2/3 of the pack. I sat towards the back and probably wasted a bit of energy yoyoing around the corners. I eventually figured out a way to drift back slightly before the corner which allowed me to not lose as much momentum when the group braked in front of me. There were a couple fruitless attacks that hurt a bit. I contemplated an attack on the last lap but convinced myself I'd get caught at or shortly after the last corner. Looking back, I should have tried it as there was no one behind us. Either way I would have finished in the same position. I looked over my shoulder at the last corner and saw nothing but the moto. Realizing I wasn't gong to contest the sprint (and admitting I was hurting) I coasted over the line in 12th place. I eventually got bumped up to 11th after Chris' relegation. Bummer for him, especially after his crash early in the race.
I had very little hopes for the second race of the day. I was still beat from the 4/5 race, so I didn't expect to last very long in the 3/4 race. After avoiding the big crash as it happened and then sprinting to catch up with the lead group we neutralized for a lap before a restart. They gave the solo breakaway rider a 30 second headstart. I thought he was closer to 15 seconds ahead, but not my call. The pace was pretty heavy for a lap or two while we chased him down. One notable difference between the 4/5 and 3/4 race was the number of riders able to sit in. I was hoping a few more people would drop before the end but I think a large majority of the starters finished in the lead group on the lead lap. With 3 laps to go I started to move up. I wasn't expecting to sprint, but I had hoped to get a decent finish just by moving up in the pack. I held my position in the front third all the way through the next to last lap. After I went through the first corner, my bike made a slightly louder noise than usual. I had assumed it was just due to increased speed, but I quickly discovered my chain fell from the big ring to the small. I did a few fast shifts of the rear to compensate around the second and third corners hoping I could get back into the big ring on the slight straight back into the park. I tried but couldn't get the chain to jump back up. Between turn 1 and 2, and then 2 and 3 my cadence/power were 118rpm/323w and 120rpm/390w respectively, including coasting through the corners. I managed to hang on until right before the longish right turn before the longish left turn before the last corner (descriptive, right?). I looked over my shoulder and again only saw the moto. I worked hard until the last corner/climb and then slow pedaled over the line. I was around 20 seconds back by that point. So aside from the slight mechanical, I still consider it a pack finish. Unfortunately, there were 34 guys in the pack ahead of me.
Overall, a good day. Very happy to hear Jeff was okay. Chris looked pretty banged up but after the swelling goes down he'll be back on the bike soon. (I hope) Happy with my progress over the winter and I'm hoping to get a couple good results in the near future.