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.
Race Report: Cargas Cat4/5 Crit
Sunday, June 21st, 3:40 PM
Cargas Criterium cat 4/5 crit (20M)
Historically I haven't done well in criteriums, not really having the tactical and technical knowledge necessary to win the fight for position before the sprinting even starts. But I came to the Cargas Crit in the middle of the my best season of racing with a mind to change that. I had high hopes because of an 11th place finish at this race in 2007 which had actually been one of the few high points of a season otherwise full of DNFs and disappointments.
In the end I might have had the strength to finish higher but given the way the race played out I was happy with the results.
The Cargas criterium course is shaped like a capital letter "D" with the start/finish coming just past a ~200m hill on the straightaway. This year father's day was blazing hot with temps over 90 degrees on a fun and fast but shadeless course.
The 4/5 race had about 50 starting riders with 4 of my teammates in the mix. I did not start the race out very smart. Taking long pulls in the wind to come around the sides of the race, etc. After about 5 laps I felt terrible. The heat was killing me, I felt zapped of energy and nauseous. I got into the middle of the peloton and stayed there for about 8 laps.
Still feeling the heat but riding more economically I got myself back into the 1st 10 wheels with about 6 to go.
As I said I'm normally not a very good crit rider. My sprint is pretty good for my cat but I have tendency to end up on the front too early and get swarmed on the last lap. So I tried to stay heads-up and jumped into every move that came by me for the next few laps.
In classic cat4/5 fashion the entire field sat up with 3 laps to go to rest up for the finish or whatever. So I got hung out to dry a bit and ended up leading the field for 2 full laps going into the bell lap. It's not the best way to race but that's how we do it so I played the game. I just rode tempo pace and waited to jump on the the attacks when they came.
We came out of the 1st corner of the last lap riding 5 or 6 abreast. Yes, I realize how ridiculous that is. I was on the right edge of the pack and looking across the peloton I saw a train of riders coming up the left. I yelled for the field to jump on them as the lead out for the sprint started.
Of the guys who were awake on the front the left side jumped first, the middle followed and the right side (including me) got in behind maybe 10 wheels back. We were going single file at this point but I saw that the lead guys had opened up some gaps so I come around the riders in front of me to chase back up. Coming into the last corner I was sitting in the top 10 but gapped off the top 5.
Going through the last corner (a left-hander) I checked my 3 o'clock to see a train of guys coming around the outside 2 or 3 wide and starting to come even with me.
And then I got the horrible feeling in my stomach that I usually get in the last corner of a cat4/5 race when riders try to rail a corner 5 mph faster than they have all day (see BikeJam).
Sure enough they took the corner too hot and went into the right gutter. I was fortunately about 3m off to the side as one guy came unclipped and teetered for what seemed like an impossibly long time with his body off to the side of his bike and one leg straight-out across his saddle at 90 degrees to the ground. Somehow everyone stayed up but as you can imagine there was a bit of braking, shouting and bumping.
With that disaster averted and the lead guys close but not close enough to draft off I fired up for a long (250m) uphill sprint into the wind. I kept the leaders close and maybe closed the gap a little. Only one other guy cleared the field as well and he passed me about 20m from the line as I was fading from the long effort.
I crossed the line somewhat wobbly and cross-eyed but in 7th, one spot outside of the upgrade points but in the last money spot for $30.
The heat definitely took it's toll and despite racing for less than hour I was a shuffling zombie for the next few hours.