Cat 5 Crit on Sat. 4/14 and Cat 5 Road Race on Sun. 4/15. 6th place in the crit, 3rd place in the road race.
Dana has a recap of the trip and her race report here.
Dana and I drove down on Friday, met my friend Norman who guided us around all weekend. Up at 7:30, Panera at 8:00, test ride the road course at 9:30, lunch downtown at 11:30, race check-in at 12:30, my crit started at 2:00.
Another race day at 90+ temperatures, this time in Florida, humid, yay. This was my first crit. The course was flat, smooth (except for man hole covers, and brick walkways in all the corners) and fast. I had a warm-up plan, 35 minutes on the trainer up against a building in the shade. The sun kept moving, I kept stopping to slide closer to the building. Sweaty and ready to go 10 minutes before the start. Norman and Dana help pack up my gear, I took half a lap over to the start, second row as the rest of the racers lined up. It started 5 minutes early so I timed it right.
25 Minutes plus 5 laps, 37 riders. My plan was to stay in the front 1/3 of the group, stay out of the wind as much as possible and go with a group bigger than 5 or 6 people if they break away. The race started fast and stayed there for the entire ride. We ended up with a 25.9 avg mph for the race with the final lap at 29.7 avg mph, 22 laps total. As expected, it's chaotic, people moving around, changing lines, avoiding the man-hole covers, trying to get the best line into the corners. After a few laps everyone settled in a little and was less aggressive on taking lines but the pace continued. I also started to realize I was relying heavily on the breaks going into the corners and a little too aggressive on the gas coming out of the corners catching the person in front of me and having the use the breaks again. I made the cornering more efficient as the laps went on, watched for too many people moving in-front of me and tried to stay on a wheel as often as possible. After what seemed like quite a while, I looked up at the start clock, only 10 minutes had gone by. I never saw Norman or Dana but I could hear them in one of the corners. I knew my heart rate was high but didn't pay much attention to it, it never really bothered me, I didn't feel like I was going to blow up or was ever out of breath and it also wasn't safe to take my eyes off the race. Incredibly my avg hr was 192 for the race. (I'm thinking the heat had something to do with this - and adrenalin). I drank from my bottle 3 times. It was only a 33 minute race so it wasn't a big deal. On 2 occasions somebody broke off the front but was quickly brought back in, at that pace not too may people can sit by themselves for very long. I was friendly to most of the racers and let people in when I didn’t think it would hurt my position. Most of the other riders did the same. No crashes, just few people yelling about keeping their lines and call out when diving into the inside corner. On the last lap I got boxed in with people coming around on both sides after turn 2 (the back was a longer straight away). I leap frogged on the outside on the second half of the back side and into turn 3, turn 4 was quickly after, still too many people in front of me and almost 4 wide going into the corner with me on the outside (we had been going double file the entire race). The racer to my left, slightly in front of me came wide right all the way to the barrier. I had to slow down and wait for him to move back to the center before starting my sprint. As I gained momentum, most of the racers ahead of me were lined up in the center of the road. Out of my peripheral and slightly ahead of me, I could see another person sprinting at about the same pace I was on the far left side of the road. I was gaining on him but not fast enough, both of us passed several people. One person had pulled away from the group and 3 others were just in front in the middle. As we reached the line I was sure I had caught him and lunged the bike forward. I was thinking 5th place. I had evidently been holding my breath during the sprint and got some air back into my lungs. I glanced down and saw my hr at 209 (crap that's a first - never been over 197). They posted the results and I got 6th. I'm happy with the results of my first crit race, think the Georgia boy may have been pushed aside for a Florida kid but I'll never know. Need to win by an obvious amount. 33:17.1 (both with the same time). Norman and Dana missed the finish, it was posted as a 30 min + 5 laps race but ran at 25 +5 and were over in the corner at the finish. 1 down, 1 to go. I celebrated with a few sodas, a hot dog, ice cream, a gallon of water and call to Leslie and Aidan.
The heat continued to rise and get humid as storm clouds moved in. The pro women were everywhere with team cars and race directors. Dana’s cat 4 race had been merged into Pro,1,2,3,4… not cool. After standing around in the heat all day, not much sleep in the hotel, bossy women running their mouth constantly, not getting a chance to warm up and starting with a giant pack of 50+ riders all accumulated into a DNF for Dana. It probably turned out to be the best decision knowing she had another race on Sunday (in her own category). We watched the rest of the race just before the rain came in (prior the mens pro start). We celebrated with diner at Bone Fish Grill and a trip to Super Walmart for some peanut butter, bread and bananas for tomorrow.
Up at 5:45, pack the car, hotel check out and Norman lead us over to the road race start. It was cold out, a sharp contrast to the day before. Masters men 45+ started at 8:00, Masters Men 55+ and Women Cat 4 (together at 8:10) Dana’s group (strange I know) with Juniors at 8:20. 12.25 mile loop, 3 loops at almost 37 miles – flat. The wind had picked up with 22+ mph gusts and rain started after the start of the race for Dana. I was still cold with a jacket and pants on. Norman and I watched the first lap from the car at the rain came pouring down and the wind continued. Dana was in the first group. She was there again on the second lap. At the finish, she was already in the front of the pack hammering the pedals, she was racing the men to the finish line! She finished 4th overall and 1st women by a long shot. She killed it!
My race started at 10:00. I was dehydrated and couldn’t eat much. I managed to get a half a penut butter sandwich down, a banana, half a power bar and 1 gel between when I woke up and the start of the race. On the trainer for 18 minutes and some music got me focused. They waited to start our race until after Dana’s group came in so after the warm-up I watched her come in first. Another boost for the day. Some time they started the Masters 35+ before us and the Cat 4 after. It was a good size group, not sure how many, looked like 45 people maybe. The ground was still wet and the wind continued for the entire race (this was a factor since it was wide open for almost the entire ride). We managed a pace of 24.7 for the first 2 laps and 23.9 for the last one. Had it not been so windy it probably would have been faster. I recognized some of the stronger riders from the day before and kept my eye on them. Half way through the first lap there was an attempt to quicken the pace and break the group up. I ended up at the front and rotated through my pull. Some of the riders jumped into the left line to save energy and not work. Luckily the rider behind me also pulled through. As expected there were surges and slow downs, especially in the corners (3 of them with and S curve on the back side). Same game plan as yesterday, sit in, go with a bigger group if needed and stay in the front 3rd. The first and second lap were similar except that the sun started to come out and it was starting to warm up and dry the road. I was buried in the group as we came around for the start of the last lap. I could hear Norman and Dana so I lifted my arm up and pointed my finger to let them know I was still feeling strong. A few miles down the road the race official was telling use to move to the left. They had neutralized the Cat 4 riders because we had caught them, talk about an ego boost to the group. Some of the riders were talking about how their legs were dead but I felt fine, I’m sure passing the “faster more experienced” group gave motivation to keep going. A little while later the race director came back yelling at our group. I though it was for the yellow line infraction, the entire group from time to time jumped across the line to move up places in the pack, but it was because a Cat 4 rider had jumped in with us and was disqualified. On this loop the ride had slowed down to 17+ a few times. I didn’t think this was smart because it gave some of the weaker riders a chance to recover before the finish and brought a larger group to the line. I wasn’t pulling so I couldn’t bitch too much. Once we got on the last rode, about 6 miles out, the pace picked up significantly and I made sure I was at the font. Someone had broken away at the start of this lap and was dangling about ¼ mile up the road. 5 or 6 of us sprinted and paced for 3 miles changing lines sharing the work and taking on the wind. I had no idea what was happening in the pack behind me I just wanted to make sure I was in the break if there was one or at the front if there was a sprint. This hurt the legs and lungs little but as we slowed down (the pack was back on us) I recovered quickly (I never past the point of being worried I would blow up). The road up to the finish was the most open and had very strong winds every time we came through (knock the bike over / push the entire peliton across the street strong). It probably would have been a good place for a break away but I resisted the urge to go. Coming up to the finish I stayed on the left (open the other lane) to make sure I wouldn’t get boxed in, I was looking for strong wheel to follow to the line. As we got closer to the line I was becoming impatient and irritated at the pace, the entire pack was there ready to sprint. I remember saying, this is BS, lets go and the guy I was going to follow saying “wait unit 200 meters”. The pace started to pick up but not a sprint in my opinion, the guy I was going to follow was sitting around too long, so I worked through 3 or 4 people but the pack had created a knife edge in the front with most people on the far right and I was in the middle of the road. I was in the wind and not much else I could do about it so time to hit the gas and see what I could do. The group seemed to move in slow motion to my right as I passed everyone, it was strange thinking, are they sprinting yet because the line it coming up. I started to think, I may win this and put everything I had into the peddles. A streak of red white and black came by me on the left and just as I hit the line another person was right next to me on the left. I started think I should have lunged for the line with the bike, did we cross the finish because there was no line, I was looking at a cone on the side of the rode. I got second, I know I did. Holly crap that was a rush. My heart rate is at 200 and I’m trying to catch my breath. I don’t know if I was smiling but I felt like it. My avg hr was 157, 1 hour 30 minutes, 36.8 miles. Even as they posted the result I was talking to the guy who got second though I had beat him but again I missed it by inches (I want to see the tape!). 3rd, a podium spot, I’m happy for my second road race. The kid who won, 16 years old, Konner rides these roads every day and trains with bike shop owner who sponsored the race. He timed the sprint perfect. I got a Cracker Jack metal, Dana got a check for $60. whoo.
Celebration with a call to Leslie and Aidan, Friday’s food and on the road for a drive back to Atlanta. Big thanks to Norman for being our tour guide/support crew/cheering section.
My Crit Race
Dana's Crit Race - Pro Women leading the way
Stats from both races - I had the Garmin auto lap at the start finish (first 22 laps of the Crit race and 3 of the Road)