1. Could score me the needed points for cat3 upgrade
2. Is ridiculous fun (actually the whole event is in my opinion)
I lined up knowing the GC was not an option, but was planning on using the TT as a great opener exercise for the crit later in the afternoon. Combined with the substantial equipment handicap I felt like this would be a good strategy. Didn't warm up enough before my start time, but I put as much effort into my cantilevered CX bike as I could and squeaked out a 16th. Eh, not quite as well as I'd hoped, but still fun.
Started getting nervous when the rain started coming down. This crit course is already pretty sketchy in cat 4/5 because riders tend to crash hard. But in the rain I thought for sure it would be a mess. So I was half tempted to skip it all together. But about 2 hours before the event I found a chance to reset my mindset. It's amazing what a difference a warm up makes.
After some solo trainer time by my truck I decided the smart move would be to fight like mad to stay inside on the corners (mostly), to stick to the frontish of the pack, and to watch out for people going sideways.
Start line I chatted with a rider about his SRAM Red components, as I'm pricing SRAM stuff for the Cat 3 bike. Right before we took off I gave my complimentary "Stay safe, stay upright!" to everyone just before the whistle and we were off.
Started about 3/4 back and began picking off 3 people at a time to work my way up to the front. Ignored the prime sprints, as I was determined to grab a good finishing position. Dan and I had worked out a plan to attempt a break after one of the primes, but we never connected for that.
One solo break went out with 7 laps left to go, I later found out it was Kevin T, and that dude has been having some great finishes recently. When I saw him go off, the next lap I was urging the field to bridge and indeed pulled the whole lap causing the field to splinter just a bit, but not quite enough for me to feel comfortable breaking away on my own, and nobody was willing to work with me to reconnect with Kevin.
Discouraged I fell back realizing that either these guys had written off 1st place (possibly...) or they were just flat out tired from the TT earlier (likely,.,.) I realized my best bet for a strong finish with 5 laps to go now was not to try and catch up to Kevin basically by myself, but instead would be to hide back around 5th-8th and then attack from way back on the last lap because I was feeling quite strong still.
I heard that there were some crashes in our field, but my planning paid off and no problems at all except a squirelly rider (rockin the SRAM Red as it turns out). Only had to yell at him once to watch his line as he'd cut across the whole field to chop the corners without looking.... ?!
With 4 corners to go I accelerated up to get position putting in the effort early, and advanced up to around 5th wheel recovering a few spots I had lost, then fell in behind some strong riders, and hammered again with 2 corners to go holding strong lines that I'd previously figured out. Got up and sprinted and caught 2 riders for a 3rd place finish 2nd in the pack, just didn't have enough road to catch the guy that took 1st in the pack.