Sorry I have been slacking around here. Time has been tight and I am trying to do more riding in that free time than typing. This was my second year to head down to the Burning Quad. Last year was my first ever crit race after saying that I would never do one. Well, needless to say I had enough fun that I headed back again this year. I was hoping that I was a little smarter and in a little better shape this year and had high hopes to do a lot better. Last year I jumped on front for the Cat 5 race too long and ended up getting dropped from the pack. I spend a lot of energy trying to catch up for awhile and eventually slowing down to a smarter speed. I also raced the 4/5 race and didn’t do too bad for a little while, but the first race had my legs worn out and I got dropped from that race too. So, it was not a far stretch to think that I could do better this year.
Before the race I was not that hyped up about it and I was not sure why. We got the pit set up and got everything ready before heading out for a few warm up laps. That is one of the things I like the most about having the first race is the course is open before the race and I can get a good feel of the corners and what things to watch out for all while warming up. Soon enough I found myself at the starting line waiting for the race to start. And we were off. I settled in near the front half and find a good place in the pack to hang out. Just as the race started, I thought it might have ended. The second corner that is a 180 degree corner, the guy right in front of me grabbed some front brake and washed out the front wheel. Down he went and some how I made it around him. It sounded like there was several caught up in the crash or at least held up. I was thinking it would be a good time to pick the speed up ad see if the few guys up front could pull away. The guy in the lead was not thinking that way and we went slow enough that everyone hopped back on.
That was probably the right thing to do. I would not have had the legs to do what was needed to really make a difference anyway. From here on out it seemed to be fairly tame. Some corners were taken way too slow, but I didn’t let it get me to jump on the front. The climb out of the boat ramp was a lot slower than I remembered from last year too. This was a very good thing and I felt like the legs were feeling really strong. I stayed smart and didn’t use any extra energy for the remainder of the race. I was feeling pretty good and started to think I might have a go for a podium spot. Being smart and the fact that I could make almost any move that I needed to in the pack around the 180 corner and in the parking garage section. As long as everyone kept taking the corners that slow, getting where I wanted to be was not too difficult.
But, then came the last lap. For some reason the climb up from the boat ramp had my legs hurting more and my heart rate was way too high. Maybe it was just getting pumped up about the finish. This had my legs not feeling as strong and with the heart rate elevated, it did’t leave a lot of room for more power. I held on to my placing, but could not make the moves that I wanted in the parking garage. As I took the last right hand corner on to the last straight, there was a guy on the inside. He pushed me farther out around the corner than I had planned and this kept me from getting on the gas as quickly as I wanted to. I made my jump and gave it all I had, but came up about a foot short of the guy in front of me.
I felt good about my race, but, a little disappointed about not being any stronger at the end. I really felt like I did what I needed to allow me to get up closer to the front at the end. Oh well, I really can’t complain since the goal was to do better than last year. I rode a lot smarter and finished with the pack. Not much to complain about there. Now the second race might have be a different story. I was worried since I drained my legs at the end of the Cat 5 race. I was talked in to racing two races last year and did was not that bad, but I didn’t finish with the pack. That made a big difference in how I felt this year.
I didn’t expect to hold on very long, but since I paid already I figured I might as well line up. I was thinking that I might only make it 2 laps when we came by the start finish line for the first lap and the bell rang for a preem. Somehow I managed to hang on to the back and after that lap, the pace slowed down. I did manage to hang on for 20 minutes or so before the boat ramp was too much for my legs and out the back I was. I still rode pretty well, but no match for the pack. They eventually did catch me and lapped me with about 2 laps to go.
Overall I am very happy with how I raced. I finished 8th in the Cat 5 race and placed 23rd in the 4/5 race. It was a lot of fun and I stayed upright. That is the main thing that I worry about with crit racing. If I keep racing it is only a matter of time before I hit the pavement. I can only hope that it is not too bad. I will say that this was another race that 40lb Sledge Hammer put on a good race. Be it road or mtb, it is always a good time and run smoothly. I suggest that you give them a chance and head out to a race. I know I plan on being at the next one if I can make it.