All I want to do is drink beer and train like an animal.
- Rod Dixon

I'm feeling rough. I'm feeling raw. I'm in the prime of my life.
- MGMT


Race Report: BikeJam Cat4 Criterium

This was my first race for my new club: Lateral Stress Velo/Kelley Benefit Strategies.

The course was fast and my field was full at a capped 100 people. I knew I needed to get to the front because the back was going to be popin' like a bowl of Rice Krispies. That was my plan at least.

Wait for it...*whistle*

And right away things went to crap. The guy in front of me immediately nearly tips out. To avoid what looked like it was about to be a crash I didn't clip in but nicked my pedal and sent it spinning. By the time I got my foot back on it and clipped in I was in, you guessed it, last place.

Now everyone who reads this is shaking their heads going "Stupid 4's riders - can't clip in" yeah yeah yeah I know. Shut up.

So off we go through Patterson Park. I spent some time on the back till I got the hang riding a crit again (it had been about 10 months since my last one). After a while I got a good read on the course and the pack and realized it was pretty easy to pass ~30 people on the inside of the first straight away. I also realized that I was losing ~30 spots going through the chicane on the 2nd circle. Eventually I was able to work my way up to the 1st 15 wheels (where I wanted to be all along) though once I got there there was a break off the front. Not having the energy to chase and no teammates in the break I pulled off to let someone else do the work. However I eased up too much and by the time I was able to get back in the draft I was sitting in the middle of the pack again.

The course

But now I really felt I had a handle on the turns and saw how much fast the top guys were taking the turns because it was less crowded at the front and they had more room to manouver to the best lines.

Well I started fighting my way back up through the field about midway through the race. Slowly but steadily working my way up and

oh shit

*breaks*

*skidding*

*crash*

I came into the 2nd turn of the chicane too hot on the inside. Everyone else was breaking to funnel through. I slammed the breaks (never a good idea) my wheel turned and I ended up on my side. No one else went down but 3 of us got a free lap.

Scratch on the left leg - no idea how that got there. This bruised nicely.

My right leg got it worse.

My right hand got the worst of it. It'll be a while before that's normal again. I guess it's time to invest in some racing gloves...

This was one of those tiny cuts that bleeds like crazy

Bloody Handlebars

Well I got back in the race and wasn't too shaken. I hung for 5 more miles till about 5 miles to go (in a 20 mile race). Then I was off the back and pulled myself. In the end only 34 people of the original 100 finished.

The problem wasn't that I was scared after my crash - I was embarrassed. I didn't want to be the pack and do anything stupid and get called out on being a sketchball. I'm pretty self-conscious about things like that. So I hung out at the back of the pack. And once you're back there it's only a matter of time till the accordion effect shakes you off and that's just what happened.

All in all it was ok. I felt fit and more comfortable than in my crits last year. I crashed because I lost my focus not because I can't handle my bike and I have to say my bike handling skills are much improved. It was an educational experiance.

The following people were also racing that and did very well. They all managed to NOT crash so I have much to learn from them:
  • Ryan Baumann (33rd - Pro/1) - Former UW rider
  • Jamie "Dr. K." Kimberly (DNF - Pro/1) - Former Illini rider, won $$$ next day at RFK
  • Claire Lears (DNF - W3/4) - 1st bike race!
And most importantly a HUGE shout out and thank you to my cheering section. I had a huge group of people who came out to support me. I could hear you guys on every lap - you were amazing! I wish I could have put on a better show for you!
  • Ryan
  • Arjun
  • Mel
  • Claire
  • Kriss (+ friend)
  • Donna
  • Brooke
  • Chrissy
One race down - nine to go!

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