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?
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.