by Colin Gibson
Volunteer Park is a classic. It’s marked the start of crit season for years and somehow always seems to fall on a sunny Sunday afternoon. It’s literally impossible that it will ever rain on Volunteer Park. KR showed up full flex with Nick, Rad, Galen, Jamie, Karl, Pete, Ian, and me.
Despite Galen almost jinxing the weather and Benny Swedburg standing me up for our annual coffee date, we decided to race anyway.
The plan was to ride selfishly and make sure one of us won. We decided that the danger men were Joe Holmes and the sketchy guy wearing the CWU kit. Pete marked Joe and waited for the right time to put him into the curb while Ian shouted at the CWU guy to pull until he ran out of energy.
With the two main threats neutralized, Ian and I found ourselves off the front in a strong group of 7 with about 30 minutes remaining. With us were Dave Richter, Will Teal, and Aaron Shaw (HSP), Steve Wilssens (Audi), and Ryan Short (WWU). The group was hesitant to commit because of its size but had a good gap thanks to a snack break in the pack. After some odd gaps opened up, things were whittled down to just me, Richter, Wilssens, and Short. Threat level: midnight. The four of us rolled through and it quickly became apparent that the bunch behind was mostly content with us staying away.
I was weary of Richter in the sprint, but the up-down nature of the course meant that attacking never seemed like a great idea, so we kept rolling through, and came to the bell lap looking at each other. Ryan Short was the first to jump going into the water tower curve, followed at a few bike lengths by Richter, me, and then Wilssens. We all coasted on the descent, and right at the bottom, Wilssens had built up a head of Belgian steam and made his move, flying by the three of us. Short immediately responded with Richter and me in tow, but Wilssens’ gap was growing. Nearing the final right-hander onto the finishing straight, he had ~10 meters on us.
As Short faded, Richter jumped and took the outside line through the turn. Wilssens still had a gap but was hurting from his initial acceleration, and Richter and I squeezed by between him and the left-hand curb. With the wind coming from the right, Richter hugged the barriers. I came out of his draft with 100m to the finish and was able to eke out the win by about 3 inches.
Pop bottles! It was also Jamie’s birthday, and his dad Tom, who lived like 8 feet from the course, made us a feast. Now THAT’S #professionalism.