Last planned road race/crit for my 2007 season so hope to be able to produce something positive today. Plus I don't think I can maintain the current weight with my current diet of ice cream every day for breakfast. New course with a lot of character, technical, hilly with mostly good pavement with a few rough spots. Nice change of pace for a crit and right in the middle of a neighborhood, near downtown Benicia. Feels like cross weather, though, with the overcast skies, fifty degree temperature and brisk winds.
The officials start us off with a neutral lap and we get a whistle for a rolling start on the lap after that. That's a new one for the road, used to doing that on the track only.
The start/finish straight is one half of the road, slightly downhill/uphill/downhill/uphill, and into the wind, so what ends up happening every lap is that it gets strung out, then the momentum runs out and no one wants to be first into the wind so it bunches up, we go into the first corner all bunched up, then it gradually strings out a bit on the slight uphill into turn two, then the course goes vertical, a bit harder than Vacaville, but we have the full road so there is plenty of room to pass, then a small descent, then back up another hill, then turn three where we bunch up again, a small descent, a small rise, then turn four back onto the finish straight. The first four times into turn three I can smell burning brake pads from folks wanting to suck wheel a little too enthusiastically, and usually there are one or two guys who are braking so hard that their handlebars are shaking from the front brake pads grabbing the front rim. I assume there is going to be a crash here, but instead after seven laps, there is a crash about thirty meters in front of turn two, where we bunch up due to the headwind. Two riders make contact a few meters in front of me, and I think about squeezing through to the right, but hesitate, then a rider starts rolling to the right on the ground, taking up that hole, then I think about going up the middle, but then more riders hit the deck in the middle, and soon I am at a complete stop. I was actually still in front of some people but decided to pull out and save it for the next races. That's the bad thing about reg'ing for multiple events, sometimes you just think about saving something for the next event. My legs didn't feel that great at this point, and I thought the race was hard while I was in it, but it really wasn't that hard according to the data, which goes to show me that I should just ignore whatever I'm feeling sometimes...
Cat 4 Race
Lots of familiar faces. One more chance to redeem myself. This feels easier, but the final data shows the race was actually harder! This may be due to having a bigger field where there is more shelter from the wind, but also more people to push the pace.
This time I committed to staying a bit closer to the front, but still could not stay where I wanted to in the top ten. I have little trouble moving up on the hill when I want to, it's just a question of when to do it.
At one point there is a prime and two riders go up the road a bit. Somehow they manage to crash each other out on turn three while in the lead. Then an ambulance shows up for them. This is a bit unnerving, and I don't think I quite mentally got back into it after this, and slide back through the pack.
But the bell works on me like Pavlov's dog, and I start thinking about moving forward after turn one. By turn two I am about thirtieth ( did we drop anybody? these old guys are fit! ), surge up the hill into the top ten. Here I made a tactical blunder and eased up. I should have just kept on going and went for it all the way to the finish. What happened was I thought about the crashes in turn three and near crashes and just bided my time and was only about fifteenth going into the final turn. The eventual winner surged out of the turn, and the fellows behind him hesitated. They were all strung out on the left, so I just went for it up the right. I easily passed four, five, six, seven, eight riders when I noticed there was a photographer standing in the road in front of me at the finish line. I had to ease up off the pedals, and there were seven or eight of us spread across the road at the finish line, and I got about last of the leading group. Since prizes only go three deep, not that upset about the photographer, but geez, hope I am not that oblivious.
Also, I need to not let these races finish in field sprints if my sprint is not my strength...