Stories of Mount Pleasant

Overall, I think we agree that Mt. Pleasant was a great race for AAVC Racing to show its prowess.  While we had several teammates podium, several others unfortunately went down in some gruesome wrecks.  This post isn't so much a race report as a collection of survival stories.  Still, I'd like to take the time to highlight some of our top finishers.  
Andrea Mertlotti at the start of the TT

Time Trial:
Sarah Seelye, 4th (W Cat 3)
Andrea Merlotti, 3rd (W Cat 4)
Tyler Trask, 9th (M Cat 4)

Andrea Merlotti, 2nd (W Cat 4)
Lucas Wall, 2nd (Masters 35+)

Road Race: 
Lucas Wall sprinting to the finish in the
 Master's 35+ Crit
Tyler Carlton, 7th (M Cat 3)
Harvey Elliott, 8th (M Cat 4)
Sarah Seelye, 4th (W Cat 3)

Andrea Merlotti, 4th (W Cat 4)
Harvey Elliott, 6th (M Cat 4)

Kyle Schroeder's (Cat 4) Race Report:
I HAD A F**KI*G BLAST!  I have never been part of a race with that much team organization from start to finish.  It was a great feeling to look over at the other teams’ facial expressions as we turned up the heat (30+ mph heat) for the first 10 miles of the road race.  We dominated both the Crit and RR, and with clean finishes would have placed extremely well!  However, crashes are an unfortunate part of the whole equation which is Cat 4 cycling.  With continued practice at executing team tactics I believe we can put our team out front in the future and avoid the carnage. Every rider on our team played a crucial part in this weekends races. Even if it was sitting in near the back in case a pileup takes out the whole front half.  I would like to point out some AAVC riders who made a big difference in the Crit and RR.  

Kevin and Jarod enjoying a hard won
North Peak Vicious Ale after the Crit
Tyler Trask was continuously up front for both races helping coordinate leadouts and cover breakaway attempts. He was also set up perfectly for a podium finish both days, but hit the deck in the crashes.  Small cuts and bruises only, and his bike is all good!

Matt Ronan had a rough start for the Crit but made up for it with a dominant presence on the front of the RR. He also made huge efforts to chase strong breaks and was one of the guys helping set up our beautiful leadout train for the RR finish. 

Kevin Donovan was up on the front of the peloton for the majority of the RR setting a strong pace.  Kevin and I made a strong attempt to ride off the front but the other teams chased us down pretty quickly.  He was in contention at the end and had a nice set-up in the leadout train for the RR.

Harvey Elliott was a tank for both races often opening gaps for teammates to help keep them near the front, and he definitely put in his time, and then some, at the front of the field.   While his hopes of a breakaway fizzled in the RR he finished 8th and kept his skinsuit in one piece!!!

Kevin Juntunen was an AAVC race favorite for a podium both days but fell victim to crashes in the final hundred yards both days. He was in great form for the entire race often helping chase breaks and working hard to keep his wheels near the front. 

Jarod Winn had a very strong showing in the Crit and was pulling the pack for a lap or two near the start.  He stuck with the main group until the final explosive lap that dropped well over half the pack.  

Rob Shoemaker had a strong Crit but got caught in the back working tirelessly to maintain contact and eventually blew up and had trouble breathing (I've been there before too!). He redeemed himself during the RR with his constant presence in the top 15. However escaping crash one didn't mean he was out of danger as he got caught up in the smaller but faster crash immediately before the finish.  

Tom Wamsley was extremely fortunate to evade crashes and improve his standings.  He commented after the race that this year is the fastest racing he's ever been part of, and I would have to agree.  Great job staying with the pack and outsprinting me in the Crit! 

Mick Jones might be trading his road bike in for a cross bike after jumping a curb on the final sprint for the RR to avoid the crash.  He was well placed in the leadout train to make a podium sprint, but lost some places due to the crashes. 

Overall, the weekend had lots of potential for AAVC and I personally enjoyed each moment of racing and hanging with the team.  I like to look at the whole picture to justify why I do this crazy sport and put myself at risk, and it finally came together this weekend, with having everyone around supporting one another and picking each other up off the asphalt. 


Harvey Elliott's (Cat 4) Race Report:
In the Cat 4 Crit, the team did a great job working the field and we were positioned 3/4/5 going in to the second to last turn.  Position 2 slid out causing Kevin Juntunen to lock up and endo.  Tyler Trask tried to ride through but got caught up on the downed bike.  I went wide and was able keep it together, but lost position in the pack.  Kevin recovered and finished without any major injury.  Tyler suffered some road rash and damage to his shifters.  Up until that point everything seemed to go according to plan.  We took a omnium points preem with a 1/2 sprint, nearly brought home an Applebee’s gift card, and I almost won some Oakley sunglasses.  I’d also like to call out Jarod Winn's pulls early on that really set the tone for the race and Kyle Schroeder’s monumental effort with two laps to go that put us (Kevin/Tyler/Me) within striking distance of the win.  

In the Cat 4 RR, we called an audible on the break and instead chose to focus on a lead-out sprint to the finish.  I had tried to “negotiate” with some other riders with teams that could help, but the pack was anxious to hunt down breakaway attempts and nothing got very far.  Instead, much of the team sat back 10-20 positions and waited.  This subjected us to some close calls from juniors and other shaky riders in the pack.  I can think of several instances
Kyle Bohnsack's Trek Project One
where the pack was 6-7 riders wide and someone would start sprinting up a small hill or in to a turn or dart around a pot hole and cause chaos in the ranks.  It seemed like staying back was suicide (especially in the last 10-15 miles) and so we started to assemble the team at the front.  Personally, I rode by the gutter until I could pick some nice juicy potholes and was able to sprint up the right side.  With less than 1 mile to go we had six AAVC’ers in a line on the left side with Kyle Schroeder and Tyler Trask at the back.  Kevin Juntunen and I stayed on the right near the front when I heard the sound of scraping carbon just behind me.  Kevin got
Kyle Schroeder's new tattoo!
pushed to the outside and hit the gravel, but didn't go down.  However, this crash took out our leadout line.   Kyle, Tyler, and indeed much of the pack went down with that one and I think half of our guys now bear a bloody chainring mark on some part of his body.  This was also the pile-up that took out Kyle Bohnsack from Wheels in Motion.  
The second crash happened 200-300m out near a barricade on the left side.  People were pushing to the front and with the constriction several guys were forced out to the right and onto the grass.  When you combine nerves and a 30+ mph pace bad things are going to happen.  It was a full on sprint when I saw Kevin go down on my left.  Part of me wanted to stop, but I kept pushing through the line and managed to pull out an 8th place finish.   Looking back it looked like a war zone.  One junior who slid to a halt just in front of Kevin suffered severe lacerations to his face and some teeth/jaw injuries.  In comparison, I think Kevin got lucky but still suffered some pretty bad road rash and damage to the bike.  

We had one UM rider (Andrea Merlotti) who slid out in the women’s race and earned a trip the the hospital, but after a few x-rays she was ready to check out.  There’s going to be a lot of road rash around the club for the next few weeks, but we were otherwise very fortunate considering.  


Mick Jones's (Cat 4) Race Report:
Except for the last 2-miles the Mount Pleasant RR was pretty much a great race for me and I think most of the AAVC guys.  The first 10 miles seemed fast and furious but for the most part was under control.  I felt great working on the front taking my share of the pulls and then rotating on the front with other AAVC and some of the Leadout team guys.  I over heard other teams say that they felt nervous because AAVC was on the front for the whole race and wondered what our strategy might be.

I did get shuffled back about mid race because I was on the left during the stretch with the right hand cross wind and that lane just kept getting slower and slower so I finally made my way to the right lane found Wamsley and made my way back to the front.  

I was sitting about 12th place rounding the last corner and made a move to join Harvey on the front, took a pull but then realized I didn't want to be on the front too long because of the head wind so tucked into about 8th place and was waiting to get closer to the line, a couple miles later a wheel hit my left shoe and popped the buckle off then another wheel hit my right leg leaving a wheel burn and sending me across the road into the left hand gravel all the while I heard carbon mixing with pavement and looked right to see riders and bikes flying everywhere.  I didn't go down and was able to get myself out of the gravel and onto pavement and sprinted to catch back onto the remaining group, finding Matt's wheel then moving over to find Kevin's wheel and figured he's strong so I'll follow his wheel to the sprint.  Several riders in the remaining group were immediately wanting to make a move to the front with two riders going off the pavement to the right and several yelling to calm down.  It wasn't about 30 seconds later the second crash happened (don't know how) and I saw Kevin hit the deck and I did all I could to hit the brakes to avoid Kevin while hopping the curb at 28 MPH and slowing into thick grass on the right hand side and was able to somehow steer the bike back onto the road.  As I got back on the road I was a little confused on whether I should stop to help Kevin or keep going, at that point I heard Wamsley yell out my name and I caught his wheel and sprinted to the line.

AnywayI plan to race West Branch (Cat 4) then reevaluate whether I should try Master 45+ in Kalamazoo or what I should do.  We all know crashes are a part of racing but when you hear guys screaming on the ground, teeth being knocked out and $8000 bikes being broken in half it really makes you wonder if the excitement of racing is worth the price you might have to pay if you are unfortunate enough to get in the middle of something like that.

I'm glad we all pretty much walked away and look forward to West Branch.