It was the first big bike-racing weekend of the year in Northern California last weekend, with the Apple Pie Crit in Santa Rosa and a big-money crit in Martinez on Saturday and the Cherry Pie Crit on Sunday. Joey got third in the 10-12 race at Cherry Pie last year and liked it a lot--it's a crit with a hill, his favorite kind as it usually gets rid of the big sprinter kids.
We go to Apple Pie mostly because it's in Santa Rosa, where Team Swift is based, and there's usually a pretty good turn-out of the local Swifties who tend not to go to regional races. But with an 8 am start time for the juniors race and rain, once again it was mostly the hard-core Swifties who showed up. The juniors race was divided into two categories--12-15 and 16-18, though they all raced together.
After getting dropped by the older juniors, which included some Cat 2 kids from the Davis Bike Club, Joey settled in with a 13-year-old teammate, Julian, but dropped him after a few laps when he took a pull and inadvertently got a big gap. Then when a group of older kids (including 14-year-old Brentley, who is 6'3"!!) came by, he got on Brentley's wheel and rode with him to the end. They got confused about laps at the finish, and only sprinted the last 50 feet or so (after hearing me yell, "sprint, sprint!"). Joey ended up in 4th in the 12-15 division and won enough money to pay for his entry fee and the Golden Gate Bridge toll (although of course it's actually going into his savings account). We only hung around long enough to pick up his prize, since by then we were completely soaked. I'm glad I learned the hard way to bring a change of clothes to races/rides.
Sunday was also an early start for Joey: 7:40! And we actually arrived (6:45) in the dark (crazy). Cherry Pie is the first race in the junior points series so most of the best kids in Northern California show up. That was certainly the case Sunday. Joey's at the low end of the 13-14 category this year, and after seeing who was there, we figured Joey would be doing great if he finished top 5. He seemed to be feeling good, but he was at the back of the group on the first climb and was a little nervous about the curve at the bottom of the first downhill. So, without really realizing what was happening he got dropped in the middle of the second lap. The group of 8 kids in front were all pretty hard-core and never slowed enough for him to catch back on. He ended up riding with a kid from Davis (who won the 10-12 race) for the rest of the race. The kid was willing to pull, but Joey said every time he took a pull they slowed down. The race direction was reversed this year and the climb got longer and not as steep, so it was less of a climber's course. For example, a great young sprinter from Davis finished second, but Joey beat him by more than 6 minutes at Mt. San Bruno just a month ago.
Joey ended up in 8th, and considering the group in front, he may not have finished much higher than that even if he'd stayed with the group. But he was pretty bummed about getting dropped. He's been so busy with his basketball team (who are playing in the league championship game tomorrow) and other school stuff, as well as being sick for a few days last week, we haven't really been "training." We've gotten a few rides in but they haven't really been hard rides. So it looks like it's time to start training.