Saturday, July 7, 2007

V is for Victory! (or Very happy I didn't crash)




Finally, i have an actual race to report on! It seems like ages since I raced, as my last few efforts were all TT's or TTT's, which just aren't that interesting to report on! However, today, me and my teammate took the trek down to La Mirada for a circuit race. I would always prefer a road race...but at this time in the season, it seems that crits are where its at, so it was were I had to be!

I had to get up at 3:30am for this one! Considering that I went to sleep at 11, this was just not enough sleep! However, I can catch up tonight! The circuit was 2 miles long. There was a steady climb between turns 2 and 3, and then flat/easy descent to turn 4, with an uphill finish. It was a good course. The field was pretty big. They ran the 3/4 fields together, but they were scored separately. There were 30-40 starters...not sure exactly how many, but I definitely thought it was one of the larger women's 3/4 fields. I hadn't pre-ridden the course, so lap one was the learning lap for me. Thankfully no one went crazy from the gun so I had some time. I determined the hill could be big ringed (thanks to my compact setup), and learned about the turns. The field was a bit touchy, so there was more braking than I prefer. Someone even tried to give me the constructive feedback to use my brakes less....but alas there is not much you can do when someone in front of you over-corrects and the accordion affect helps. I am all for using your body to slow down...but in extreme cases sometimes a small tap of the brakes is just necessary... At one point I nearly was pushed into a traffic cone, but managed to casually avoid it....

So the hammer went down at the start of 2 laps to go. A couple folks at the front started drilling the hill. Later (i.e. after the race) I learned that someone was worried about the mens55+ race lapping us and thought that they might neutralize the main field but let the break go if one were to be created, and was trying to create a breakaway, which didn't stick. I did, however, keep that break in check, and felt pretty good going into the final lap. On the final lap, things were calm until the backside of the course, when you could feel some intensity building. I knew I had to get up towards the front if I was going to have any chance in the field sprint. I moved up to the front, and made the conscious decision to take the final turn from the outside. THe final turn back to the start/finish was a downhill turn, to an uphill finish. The course also significanly widened to 4 lanes following the turn. I decided that if I was outside, I could take the turn fast, and go outside, creating a bit of a longer line, but I would avoid any mayhem and could hopefully go up the side and grab a wheel. And that's exactly what I did! I took the turn flat out, and had tons of momentum for the hill. I saw people attack and got out of the saddle to respond. I pushed hard and accelerated quickly out of turn 4 up the hill, but at the same time as I was going hard, I heard that dreadful crash sound off to my right. My peripheral vision saw a person flip up. I was so far away from it on the outside that I just kept going. I was able to grab a wheel of someone (blue and white kit....don't know who you are), and she took me right into the final sprint finish. I popped out and around her and sprinted in.

I didn't know how I did, and soon the 3/4 combined results were posted and I had gotten 7th in the combined field. I was happy with that, as I felt good about my ride. My sprint was slightly tempered by the worry about hearing that big crash...but overall I felt good. That feeling turned to GREAT when I found out that I won the cat 4 race! Yeah!!! My teammate got 3rd in the cat 4's as well.

The girls involved in the crash did not fare so well. When I rode back to bring them some water, they were all coherent and ok, but it looked like there was at least one or 2 shoulder issues, a concussion or 2, and a lot of road rash. It kind of shook me. Cycling is not for the faint of heart, and it IS dangerous!

Anyway, it was a good return to racing for me. I hope the folks who crashed are all ok and heal up quickly. There were also a couple of crashes in the Mens 5s as well as at least one of the masters categories (and I left for the long slog through the LA traffic before any of the other groups had finished). An interesting quote from Steve Weixel, who was racing in the Mens 5s.

Me: Did you get caught behind the crash?
Him: Yeah
Me: What happened?
Him: Not completely sure....but at one point i saw a WHEEL rolling across the course, with half a FORK still attached!

Let's hope the other fields had safer races.

Cheers!

17 comments:

Steve Weixel said...

Did I mention that the wheel wa rolling right across my path? I had to dodge it and be careful it didn't hit me! Good job on the victory, I have to be happy with my 22nd place.

Kimberly (aka. DrKim) said...

steve: Great job on your 22nd place! What did chester end up getting? Any good photos of us all? I hope it didnt take you 4 hours to get home. I got very unlucky on the drive home...but at least the race was good. It was fun...

Steve Weixel said...

Chester got 6th, finished in the lead group but got passed after the last corner. Pictures on my blog. More pictures from the later races to follow tomorrow.

Gary said...

Congrats on the win. Upgrade will ya!! Good job - Gary

Kimberly (aka. DrKim) said...

gary--how'd you do???? You raced yesterday, too, right?

Gary said...

Dr SS and I wanted badly to get away and took turns attacking hoping that we could get a group of 5 or 6 off the front. I think that the heat and wind was a deterrant and it just wasn't working. I ended up 4th in the field sprint. Need to do some sprinting practice, too much climbing and TTing has me forgetting how to get up and sprint.

chatterbox said...

kim - congrats on a great win! And, great job with the instincts of how to stay safe in the final sprint.

bbElf (a.k.a. panda) said...

Aw, jeez! I hope everyone comes out of it okay. At Manhattan Beach last year there was a final-lap crash that sent my friend's bike cartwheeling out of the carnage & it landed on the bike of the girl in front of me perpendicular to the back wheel, while she was still riding. Definitely not for the faint of heart...

Olaf Vanderhoot said...

oy...

CyclistRick said...

Congrats! Great job.

Did you catch up on the sleep?

Kimberly (aka. DrKim) said...

Cyclistrick: Thanks! And yes, I slept for an hour yesterday afternoon, and slept in way past my alarm this morning. Wow was I tired! Hopefully all those girls who crashed were ok. I hate it when races are marred by crashing, but I guess it is just part of the sport. I saw the big one in the TdF this morning...ack!

happilymrrd said...

Kimberly, I was in that Sunday crash. A total of 7 riders crashed and 3 went to the hospital because a fairly new rider went across the lanes and took a few wheels out as everybody started to sprint. After that it was just one big chain reaction. I "kissed" the pavement but was well enough to race in the 1/2/3 and was the 2nd cat3 rider to cross the finish line in that group.

Kimberly (aka. DrKim) said...

Happilymrrd: Glad you recovered in time to do so well in the 1/2/3 race! I heard the sound of it all, and it didn't look pretty... Have you heard how the 3 who went down hard were doing? I hope they recover quickly. I had a separated shoulder and cracked collarbone last fall....and it is just no fun.
Congrats for doing so well in your 2nd race of the day! By that time, I was stuck in the LA traffic headed home.

lauren said...

good god! crashes.

congrats on the win though! glad you stayed upright.

dr-nitro said...

Looks like it is time to upgrade and get out of the carnage. But as you saw, carnage occurs at all levels. It's just that it is faster and more fun.

Chris said...

Great job and good strategy on that final lap.

dr-nitro said...

Race and podium pics, great, but iPhone pics? Is this a nerdy macophile blog?