Mash and Thrash Criterium Series Final
Written by Platinum rider Andreas Malovos
This week saw the conclusion of the 8 week circuit series hosted at Magic Mountain. Jeff Stern and I headed down to race two 4/5 field races in hopes of getting Jeff some upgrade points. I was also in the series overall points race, and was looking for strong results to try and secure the grand prize Time Trial bike. The first race had a field in the mid 20's. The race was quick from the start, with riders going off the back, and many going backwards on the climb and rejoining coming down the hill. I stayed near the back, moved up as people blew up, and read the race best I could. Local rider David Larson went to the front on the climb whenever the field wasn't chasing a break and set a pace that dropped riders at their limits, and also the kept attacks at bay. Towards the end of the race there were about maybe 20 guys left racing, and half of those were hanging on with everything they had. Paul Wren, another local rider, went 100% on the downhill of the final lap and carried enough speed into the bottom section that it was a matter of maintaining the draft you had, and not letting a gap open up. As we hit the hill for the last time everyone was hoping it would slow as Jeff put in an attack. It was from the base of the hill and from a long way out, but I knew any gap formed was going to be very hard to bridge for anyone else. I was on the other side of the group and jumped over to Jeff and he drilled it into the bus stop chicane before the start finish. We had a gap on the single file field as we rounded the corner, Jeff pulled off, and I opened it up from there. I gave what I had left, and managed to hold off the field sprint for the line with less than a bike length to spare.
Andres 1st, Jeff 12th.
The 2nd race had a smaller field, but was also a hard race. Jeff attacked from the start, and went into TT mode. I sat back, and let the field struggle in working together to reel him back in. I was shocked by how strong Jeff really is. I know he is fast, but I didn't realize that fast. I was doing low threshold zone power just sitting in, letting them tire themselves out, and they were not bringing him back. David Larson went to the front to block, but only managed a few seconds of that before people started yelling and attacking. Four of the seven laps Jeff stayed away, and probably could have managed 5, but he saw the gap shrinking, and sat up for half a lap to recover. After he was caught Jeff took shelter, for a lap, and was again at the front bridging and attacking with two to go. A very strong sprinter from Fast Friday mistook the laps and sprinted for the bell lap, putting him off the front. This guy is strong, and has tons of sprint power, so I took chase with those at the front of the field. Coming down the hill I pulled off and let the others take up the chase as I rested. As we hit the base of the hill he still had a gap, and nobody had much chasing left in them, so I set out to bridge up. I caught him coming out of the final corner and grabbed wheel. I was hoping to recover for a second, and then draft him and sneak by for the win. I was able to match his pace and came along side, but couldn't power by. I'm sure it looked odd because he turns over a huge gear, and was sprinting at about half the cadence I was.
Andres 2nd, Jeff 6th.
Platinum was well represented in the series having won numerous races, and being an aggressive team on the attack or off the front in each race. The organizers are putting on a mountain bike series that should be equally competitive and fun. I'm already looking forward to racing the series again next season for its great course, and upgrade opportunity.