Will Peterson: Salt City Criterium Race Report

What better way to start with recapping a great Memorial weekend, then stating what I kept telling myself after the first night of racing. I am very blessed by being surrounded by great friends, family, and teammates. Each one of those are such an integral part to making racing possible. The support of friends and family is so crucial, racing can be very taxing. It takes a lot of time, dedication, and money. I can’t express enough how grateful I am to all of the people behind the racers that get on their bike to keep their bodies healthy and have fun while doing that. It goes without saying how vital teammates are to racing. You can race without teammates, but I can imagine it wouldn’t be as rewarding and enjoyable.

Looking back on the race weekend, I knew that I was in for some fun racing. I had the opportunity the week before to go and view the courses with teammates Brady Sexson and Corey Lies. After riding the downtown course I knew that it was going to be fast and a sprinters dream. Throughout the week leading up to the race, I did what I could to prep my body and bike for the weekend. I got some decent rest in, gave the bike a good bath, got a few recovery rides in just to keep the legs loose, and stayed off them as much as possible. My sleeping could have been better considering I had a week off of work between my school job and summer job, but as my wife can attest to I can be a little anxious and excited in race weeks. I would catch myself multiple times throughout the week playing out what strategy would work best in the race and checking to see who all was racing. When I wasn’t checking on who was racing I would also get an occasional call from Corey asking if I had seen the latest person to get signed up and if I knew who they were. I was so encouraged by his desire to help me in any way he could in his first ever race and his overall excitement to get others into racing. He convinced teammate Brent Anderson that he was recovered enough to race and nudge another few guys to give bike racing a try. Good thing he talked Brent into racing the Hutch races because Brent had the opportunity to get a strong victory on day two of racing.

As the day of racing finally arrived I had an early start because all of my excitement. I knew that the races weren’t until well into the afternoon, so after breakfast I tried to calm down some and lay down to catch just a little more sleep. I might have got some, but with a few errands still to accomplish to get the homemade ice cream that my wife and I planned to make for all the racers and supporters of Velotek, I had to get my day going. Throughout the day as we were getting ingredients and then making the ice cream and packing up I had to remind myself to save my enthusiasm for the race.

Finally it was time to go to Hutch, it was nice to be so close to home. As I got to the races, I took in the great atmosphere that was the Hutch Bike Fest. After getting a warm-up with Jake Young, I got to the starting line. It was a great crowd, both on and off the bike. As the race, started I was feeling great, our strategy was to keep everything together and for me to keep sheltered from the wind. Jake Young, Gary Calton, Brent Anderson, and Corey Lies did outstanding accomplishing just that. I specifically remember Jake going up to the front to reel in an early attack and late in the race on the last lap Gary jumping in front of me to get me out of the wind.

The race was just as I expected, fast and a sprinters dream. A team from Oklahoma pulled the pack around at a very high pace, but as I sat in I thought I felt really good and my legs felt as if I haven’t worked much at all. As the lap counter approached one, I knew that my time was drawing near. Once we heard the bell, I began making my way towards the front, Gary got in front of me and lead me down the long back stretch and then I starting taking off as we turned onto Sherman street. I was amazed at how the other riders seemed to be slowing down, as I turned onto Main Street the final drag only one man was in front of me and he was clearly exhausted. I sprinted hard and fast towards the finish hearing the cheers of those at the finish. It was such a relief to cross the line in first, I had definitely put high expectations on the race and to deliver was a joy. It made even better to have so many local friends and family at the race watching me sprint to victory.

After the race, the week of excitement and anxiousness paid its toll, I was emotionally spent. That didn’t slow Velotek down though. I got some great deep sleep and was ready to tackle another day. During day two, I felt that my goals were accomplished and I needed to work to grow. I worked to become a part of any breaks attacking off the front, using energy to grow in the sport of racing. All this paid off not for my benefit, but for the team. Both Brent and I both took sprint primes that we had no idea were happening, we were just attacking the field. As the race came to a close, Brent into the strong wind made the winning move. Coming from the back Brent attacked up the side on the last long straight, he sprinted strong to the finish and won the race. Being a fellow Wichita rider and teammate, I got the excitement and joy of hearing his name from the announcer. Yet again I got to let out the victory cry this time for my fellow brother.

As mentioned before, I am so grateful for all my teammates, friends, and family. I couldn’t have raced to victory without the support of all these people. I am thankful that I had members of my church family, a friend from college, and my wife’s parents and grandparents out at the races Saturday to watch me. It added to the pressure, but made the victory that much sweeter. I am grateful for my parents and siblings, God put me with the best people to help me become who I am today. I am grateful for Jim Whittaker, he has given me some great tools to become successful in the sport of bike racing. Thanks to John Fairbanks and all the organizers, sponsors of the Hutch Bike Fest, it was great to have a south central Kansas race and one that had such a great atmosphere. For Dan and Becky Robertson, they have been so encouraging and are great for growing the sport. Dan, thank you for sponsoring our team with your company North American Aviation, it is always great to tell others from Wichita that we are sponsored by a Wichita company. Thank you to the Trek Bike Store of Kansas City, I have a lot of great gear and clothing that came out of your store, thanks for keeping us up and running and looking good. Thanks to all my teammates, as I mentioned to one of the new riders this weekend, I have done a lot of sports and have been on a lot of teams, but this team and the people of this sport have been the best people to be around, work for, and to be lead to victory by. Thanks to my wife for allowing me to ride so many hours, encouraging me, taking great pictures, and being an amazing women. Lastly, it might be cliché but it can’t go without saying thanks to my Lord and Savior, I am truly who I am because of the life changing decision.

Photo: Dani Peterson