2018 "Critsquad" Debut FSTF15

Every spring for the last 15 years a special event has taken place in the not too far away city of Winona Lake and Warsaw, Indiana. The Fat and Skinny Tirefest is a staple of a complete cycling weekend connecting road, mtb, family, leisure, and even kids cycling into one fun weekend. The whole town makes this event a welcoming and wonderful event. 

This was the third year the Team Neighborlink “CritSquad” had shown up to participate, but this year was a bit different. What started as just about 8 athletes including our mtb riders and a few roadies turned in to 14 road athletes alone! Top that off with a strong showing in the MTB races as well. It was a weekend to celebrate.

Events kicked off Friday night with a time trail in the heart of downtown Warsaw that saw riders take to a 3.2mi out and back test of truth. The conditions were not the monsoons that we saw last year, but the first hour of riders battled a changing course of semi-dry and sporadic showers. After the ladies had gone it was the turn of our men to go. At that point the rain had stopped falling. All of our riders rode their hearts out and gave it their all. With a slight downhill out and strong tailwind only to comeback with a strong headwind and slight uphill Nate Ganger and Abi Snyder found themselves in the top 5 of each of their respective categories. This put them in good position for the overall weekend points competition that is offered.

Saturday morning started off with the DINO MTB Series taking over the phenomenal Winona Lake trail system. Some of the best trails in northern Indiana. Most of the TNL riders participated in their sport level classes that included 2 lap races. Abi took first place in her category and Andrew took the win in the Clydesdale (aka, #HuskyBoyz) category during the second wave of races. DINO does a great job organizing and running these events.    

Saturday afternoon presented the first day that some new Team Neighborlink members to were able to race together. We lined up in the Category 5, Women’s 4/5, Cat. 4, and Master’s 2 40+, and Masters 3 50+. With distances of 24-44miles the storms steered cleared and just as the riders staged to start the race the sun broke out from the clouds. In the men’s Cat 5 race TNL riders Logan Ott and Sam Hagedorn rode to good finishes despite a very fast finish that saw their category pass the higher paced Cat 3 field.

In the Women’s 4/5 race Erin Adair, Abi Snyder, and Amaris Longenecker took to a deep field of riders. All three of the women rode strong despite being started with the Women’s 1/2/3 field. Abi rode to another consistent points finish that kept her in contention for the omnium points.

In the men’s cat4 road race, 6 riders looked to capitalize on Nate Ganger’s great ride in the TT the night before. The goal for the day was to try and deliver Nate to a win or best placing for max points. The team of 6 did an excellent job of controlling the race and staying in good position the whole race. When the finishing sprint to place Nate finished a solid 7th on the group sprint. One rider got away and was able to get the win solo, but James, Nate, and Eddie finished 7th, 8th, and 9th. A wonderful show of force after a lot of work put in by Corey, Matt, Eddie, and Dylan the whole race.

Next up was the Master racers of Ray Vasquez and David Park, and don’t be fooled these men are fast. Both of their races were won by breakaways and both had strong finishes in races controlled by teams and each were alone.

Sunday is the highlight of many racers weekends. The third day of racing is the criterium race in the Winona Lake Village. A criterium is a mile or less short loop that racers race with usually 3 or more corners and high speeds. It’s often the most spectator friendly as well as most exciting racing. It’s an interesting feeling coming into a 3rd day of racing and sometimes can affect how people race.

Coming into Sunday riders Abi, Nate, Matt, and Eddie were in the top 10 for the omnium. In the first race of the day the Cat5 race Matt, Parker, Rob, and Logan took to the start line.  Unfortunately, Rob was taken out by a crash, but escaped to race another day unscathed. The rest of the guys raced on and were able to have good races crash free.  

Next up was the Women’s 4/5 were Erin, Abi, and Robin fought well to solid finishes after a breakaway of two stayed away for the day. Erin finished 4th in the sprint while Abi stayed in the pack after a weekend of doing 2 road events and a MTB race, which is a lot! Robin coming off of a huge past weekend with an endurance trail run finished with a pack finish as well.

David had a great showing in his masters race. His race was animated with attack after attack from teams. David was strong enough to go in one, but was brought back mid-race. In the master’s field teamwork is essential and he was one of few that didn’t have teammates, but still finished 13th on the day.

The men’s 4 race was next and Nate, Lewis, Corey, Eddie, and Dylan took to the start line. Once again the plan was to help Nate to a good result and there would be a midrace sprint for points and the finish. After a calm start the race started to heat up. In a shocking turn of events the start finish line blow-up banner ran out of gas and collapsed and the race had to be safely stopped. After that Nate positioned himself for the points sprint mid race and got 3rd in that sprint. With that result he knew if he won or finished 2nd he could lock in a great result as well as 2nd overall for the weekend. The team responded by controlling the pace and making sure not to let breakaways get away in the closing laps. With 7 laps to go the team came to the front and brought back the break with 5 laps to go. Dylan suffered a flat tyre from a staple just taking lap 5 and had to dropout of the race, but Corey and Lewis without hesitation went to the front and leadout Nate to the finish making the pace fast and hard for riders behind. In the closing meters Nate went wheel to wheel in a nail biting sprint. He was just edged out for the win by a fellow competitor, but was excited with his great ride and great teamwork. Matt had hung in after his leadout to score a solid 8th place finish also.

The final race for any team members was the 3/4 category and Eddie lined up 45minutes after just racing the 4 race and that was impressive. While he ended up dropping out before the finish it takes a lot to race twice in a day let alone in a fast race like the 3/4 cat.

The wrap up for the weekend in Omnium points was as goes per catergory. Women’s 4/5 Abi finished 4th, Men’s Master’s 40+ David 9th, Men Cat 4 Nate 2nd, Matt 8th, and Eddie 9th.

It was a great showing for our first weekend of racing together and the whole team looks forward to carrying on with our season. The teams next race will be in Glencoe, Illinois on June 2nd.