Monday, May 28, 2007

Syracuse Race Report

What up yall? Everyone have a good Memorial Day weekend? Excellent. I travelled on up to Syracuse with a teammate of mine to race the Syracuse Stage Race. That's right, my first stage race. Here is how things went down.

The Syracuse race was awesome. It was scored based on points. Which gave each event relevance.

(Editors note: If you want to read the interesting section skip to Sunday.)

Saturday morning was the 30 mile Road Race. 1 loop with ~1.7 mile climb about half way through and a ~.3 mile up hill finish to top things off. Flashback to earlier that week. My allergies had grabbed a hold of my body and were not letting go. As a result, I road my bike on Thursday for about 20 miles. That's it. Not exactly maintaining the fitness. . . . . I ride with the pack on the course and try to climb with the leaders. Well that lasts about half way up the climb and I pop. I cruise the rest of the way. I figure it will be a long weekend, and there is no need to bake myself in the wind. I spin it on in for an amazing 42 place. Awesome.

Saturday afternoon: The one mile TT. Yep you read that right. It had about 7 turns and a ramp off a curb too! My lack research on the TT course layout resulted in a less than stellar performance. I would have liked to have the result back, cause I really felt I could have done much better. I did 2:37 which put about 33rd for the TT. No worries, the crit is all mine.

Sunday morning: 15 lap criterium.

A little back story: My cycling results have had me in the dumps lately. I know that I may have had some bad luck, but at the same time I did not feel that I did anything to proactively have a positive result. Too often I just cruise in the back, talk to fellow riders and wait for the crash to happen and hope it ain't me involved. I felt I need to throw on the game face and get a top ten result. Something that represents the abilities that I know I have.

Crit Course Description: A beautiful "no corner" crit. The course had a little 'S' turn going up a power hill followed by a sweeping left turn down the hill into a rough section of pavement. After that you are back at the start/finish and two turns away from the 'S'. Nothing that should cause anyone too many worries. Best of all there was rumors of a beer preem.

With my less than stellar results in the road race and TT, allergies or no allergies, I felt this criterium was for me. Here is where my result would be made. . .

At the start of the crit the announcer grabs the mic and ask the riders to raise their hands if it is their first criterium. A few raise their hands. All he says is, "Be Careful." Way to put the fear of god in them. Excellent.

The criterium starts! It is fast from the gun and I am loving it. The first three laps did not string out the pack but the pace was fast enough that group was not riding any larger than 3 wide. I could tell that this pace would weed out riders and that is always a good thing. I am hanging in the rear of the group, doing what I normally do. However I had no worries about maintaining with this pace because of my work with the Thursday Great Valley Crit was still harder than this race.

Then the beer preem comes. All of the sudden the pace goes up even higher. No I didn't win the beer, however I loved the faster pace. I made a few moves around slower riders knowing that riding any fewer than 10 back or so could now get me in trouble. I'm riding great and feeling awesome.

Before I know it. We have 6 laps to go and I am sitting among the front 15 riders. I am feeling good. I hear my teammate cheering for me and I don't want to disappoint him. I felt that this would be my day if I stayed smart. I drank some fluid in preparation for the last 3 laps to be very fast. I didn't want an empty engine when I needed to work.

At 2 laps to go, 3 riders break off the front. Riders in the front of the pack look at each other. Someone yells from the back, "time to work boys". He must have gotten annoyed cause he came around us in the front and bridged the gap for the group. I managed to hop on his wheel as he went. I am now sitting in the top 4 riders. One lap to go . . . I am where I should be . . . let the chaos begin.

We zip through the start/finish. The pace is fast, but I am not on the rivet just riding hard. Coming out of the second turn, two riders directly to my right crash. All I think is. . . there it is . . . the crash that starts the sprint. I look up to see maybe 8 guys in front of me. We power up the climb. It doesn't seem like anyone is really behind us. We are hammering down the hill. I start thinking about positioning myself to pass a few people before the line and get myself the top ten finish I wanted. I hop on a wheel.

Just then the rider in front of me bumps the rider to his left. The pavement is very rough in this section and he goes down. There is nowhere for me to go. Two thoughts go through my mind as I see the guy in front of me crash and realize I cannot avoid him. The first thought was one of extreme disappointment. I had just road what I thought was going to be the perfect criterium race, and this jerk took it from me. The second thought was much more immediate, BRACE FOR IMPACT!!!

My front wheel hits him and I proceed fly through the air. I curl up in a ball and wait for the . . .THUD! I get up. Road rash on my hip elbow and shoulder, and my wrist really aches. All I can think about is how I need to finish. Maybe I can still get a top ten. Why did this bastard crash in front of me? A very kind lady walks over to help me. She asks, "Am I ok" and tells me to walk off the course. I tell her, I need to finish the race. I grab my bike and in my confusion start to hop on. Someone straightens my saddle as he sees me getting on the bike. I ride off to the finish line with a face of disgust. I cross the finish line in 27th place. Merry Christmas.

So here am I looking a little bit more like a hamburger than anyone really ever wants. I don't feel that bad about my result anymore. I was strong enough to ride with everyone and I cannot control every rider on the course. Every decision I made during the race was a correct one.

There are more races this coming weekend . . . See you there.

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