Sunday, May 11, 2008

Crit Survival - EBC

The EBC crit in PTown is a short affair, 30 minutes, on a course that’s approx. 0.8 mi long, flat, smooth, with three ninety-degree and one gently curving corner. After a couple of squirrelly warm-up laps in the 22-23mph range, the pace picks up and we’re consistently cruising along at 26mph (for all those really fast guys who’re laughing, remember that this is Cat5). By the third lap any ambitions (hey, even skinny climber legs have dreams) I may have had for the race are gone and am in survival mode, desperately trying to find a wheel that doesn’t twitch and can actually hold a line in the corners. Unfortunately the good wheels have their own problems and share my predicament. I try the top third, the middle third, the rear third, the left, and the right side to no avail.

At Madera the pack felt fairly consistent, smooth and friendly (everyone wanted to move on to the next stage), here it twitches, intermittently, randomly. Riders are cutting the corners 4 or 5 across, but at different angles and vastly different speeds. Russian roulette comes to mind! I decide I’ve had enough and skirt the side of the pack for a brief moment. Wow, there is a lot of wind out there, better get back in the draft. I long for the days when I would have been dropped after the second lap.

There are no attacks and the speed doesn’t seem fast enough to string the pack into a single or double line. With two laps to go the pace picks up, we’re now averaging low to mid-28mph, still bunched together – it is scary. On the 3rd turn a guy from POM FD loses control just to my front left. His right foot unclips and he skates his cleat around the corner, MTB downhill style, while his front end wobbles like crazy. Miraculously, the ensuing crash that flashes through my mind doesn’t happen and he pulls it off without taking out anyone to his left or behind him. Last lap - we’re hammering the back stretch, now doing 30mph. One more corner - sparks are coming off a pedal to my front right, but there is no crash. I finish 31st of 47 and am happy, once again meeting my top three goals: 1.) stay upright, 2.) finish the race, and 3.) don’t finish last…

Congrats to Vanessa on a smart race and awesome finish (2nd Cat4, 3rd overall) in the women's 3/4 race. Seems like they had similar problems, but didn't walk away unscathed - there were two pretty hard crashes!

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