A Double Day at Waterford Raceway: Day 1

An amazing double day at Waterford Cyclocross -- many podiums! Danny Soltan has more about his first CX race victory: 

In true cyclocross fashion, the 2013 Waterford race weekend was a Saturday/Sunday double header. After a day of on and off rain on Friday, the first day of racing started at 10am on Saturday with the Men’s Category 4 race. This race was to be 35 minutes long, which would be 5 laps of the course.

The Waterford CX course winds its way through the Waterford Hills Road Racing racetrack, a 10 turn road course normally reserved for the local stock cars and modifieds. The 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski actually began his career racing karts at Waterford Hills. The course setup for this year’s  Waterford cyclocross races utilized the short dirt trails that crisscross the track’s infield “bowl”, several other short elevation changes around the track, as well as several stretches of the smoothly paved track itself, but was mostly grass. On Saturday morning the course was damp with the previous day’s rain and included several slippery off-camber turns. Several long straightaways into the crisp ~10 mph winds also became unexpected challenges.  In contrast to the previous race weekend’s twisty course at Ithaca, the Waterford course was certainly much more of a “power course” because of the paved sections, numerous other straights, and due to the use of only one set of barriers.

Danny Soltain headed through one of the trails in the bowl.

Danny Soltain headed through one of the trails in the bowl.

The men’s Cat. 4 race included the University of Michigan’s Tyler Carlton (Sr., Ecology and Evolutionary Biology) and myself (Gr., Macromolecular Science and Engineering).  We hoped to improve upon our performances at Ithaca (19th and 4th, respectively, of 50 Category 4 racers).  The race began on the homestretch of the racetrack and then took a wide first turn onto a slight rise and onto the grass.  I got off the start line in good position, slotting into the top 5 after the first turn. Using the paved section halfway through the first lap to improve this position, I moved into 3rd and completed the first lap comfortably sitting on the wheel of the two riders in front of me. By this time, the group with which I found myself had distanced 4th place and the rest of the 25-man field. I maintained consistent lap times over the next 3 laps, while the lap times slowed for the others in the top five positions.

Danny Soltan takes advantage of the overly aggressive turn taken by his competitor, Max Staran (Wolverine Sports Club). 

Danny Soltan takes advantage of the overly aggressive turn taken by his competitor, Max Staran (Wolverine Sports Club). 

 

Without having made a dramatic move or a conscious acceleration and with only one lap remaining, I had opened a significant margin over second. I completed the last lap cautiously, to both avoid a costly bike handling error and to preserve my legs for Sunday’s second day of racing, and crossed the line about a minute ahead of second place. Tyler Carlton made several passes on the last lap and sprinted to the line to finish at the front of the group with which he was riding to collect 13th place.

Danny Soltan taking one of the many turns. Second place was far behind by now as this was the bell lap. 

Danny Soltan taking one of the many turns. Second place was far behind by now as this was the bell lap.