Although our Junior racing team in 2018 seems to specialize in attending races with extreme weather conditions, June 9 was very much an exception. Many races before and after the juniors' races were rainy, but ours were held in perfect conditions. We had a great day, with good racing, and tons of fun on and off the course.
First, Sylvania: the Sylvania Cycling Classic and the Ohio State Criterium championships for juniors. We had Aidan, Ansel, and Logan racing in the juniors; they were part of a 20-strong field of little racers.
Each of our three junior racers learned a different lesson. Aidan had a very good race; after being dropped from the larger group, he methodically worked his way back. As a reward, he was still in the main group on the last lap, and able to get second place in his age group.
Ansel also rode cleverly, staying in the same group and doing little work. He let the older, stronger, kids do the pulls and had conserved enough energy to pull of a victory -- his first USA Cycling win.
Logan, meanwhile, found himself separated from the group early on and tried to find the right pace. He was doing well, but did run out of gas a few laps before the end. Several older riders passed him, but he held on to first place in his age group. Logan's first USA Cycling win as well!
Logan got to keep his medal, but Ansel and Aidan had to settle for podium places; being non-Ohio residents, they were ineligible for the State Championships medals. It still gives the AAVC plenty of bragging rights: all AAVC racers were faster than anyone from the state of Ohio!
Next up was the CyclingLawyer.com criterium in BTR Park in Kalamazoo. Aidan was done for the day, but Michael was able to join us (in his own age category), and so was Connell.
Michael raced first, in a very strong 15-18 field of just six starters. Predictably, the field fractured almost immediately, and Michael had to time-trial his way to a finish. And so he did, finishing fifth, behind riders who were averaging speeds over 25 mph.
Speaking of high speeds: the 9-14 race was torn apart quickly when the officials decided to hand out a prime just two laps into the race. Connell took the opportunity (winning the prime) to accelerate, break up the field, and never looked back.
He kept up a hammering pace throughout and took first place uncontested, lapping everyone except second and third place. Besides first place, he also took another prime.
Behind him, it was every man for himself. In Ansel's case, that was worth fourth place (first among those lapped); while further back, Logan had run a very clever race. Learning from his race in Ohio earlier, he started out slower, then got stronger and picked off several racers. His final placing was fifth. At the line, he was sprinting (and beating) Henry Wert, who however was a lap down.
A very honorable race for Logan who had also, unwittingly, found himself racing for a prime. He happened to lap a rider just as the official was looking for a pack of riders; the next lap, Logan had distanced himself and thus earned himself a nice bike computer! What a day.
After all that racing, the AAVC racers and parents decided to enjoy the Kalamazoo brew scene with excellent food at Bell's Brewery. And then the strangest thing happened. . .
A game of Flamme Rouge broke out in the hotel! Now that is proof that the Ann Arbor Velo Club Junior Development Team is about fast fun for the family. I can't recall who won, but none of us who played it will ever forget the strange tactics that somehow gave Logan a podium place finish. Keep playing those 9's, Logan!
The final race of the weekend was the 13-mile Race for Wishes in nearby Lawton. It was a completely different experience from Saturday. One, we went back to having extreme weather: a complete downpour just before the race start prompted Logan to take a DNS. He and Ansel were shivering uncontrollably and Logan took the better part of the race time just to warm up in my car.
Connell and Ansel did give it a go. There were only eight racers in a field that put the 10-year-olds with the 17-year-olds. Predictably, Connell finished ahead of Ansel. Both had to work hard to grind their way to the finish. Fifth for Connell, Eighth for Ansel.
And so concluded, in rather fizzling fashion, a very fun and memorable race weekend for the AAVC juniors. Sadly, it was Logan's last race with us, as he has now moved west to California. He'll still be an AAVC member and soon will race in AAVC colors. To show the other teams over there how it's done. Allez AAVC!