I found myself once again lined up to race the Burning Quad. The Burning Quad is a road criterium held in Evansville. At one time I had made the statement that I would never do a Crit race. I had no interest in them and most of all I didn’t want to get hurt. To me there is a high percentage of accidents that can happen. I am not sure if this is correct or not, but I do know that there have been crashes in almost every race weekend that I have attended, but here I am. The thing that seems to shock me even more is that this was not my first race. In fact, this was the third time that I have attended this race.
The couple of weeks leading up to the race it seemed that my legs were not doing very well. There were times that I could ride fairly well, but they just didn’t have the power that they should have had and that is not good for crit racing. At this point it really didn’t matter. I have had a great time at this race and was going to attend no matter what.
My plan was to get there early and race the cat 5 race. I normally would have preferred to race the 4/5 race because it seems to be a little safer race and also because I had some team mates racing the 4/5 race. But, when I found out that another team mate was going to race the cat 5 race, I figured I would do the smart thing and just race with the 5’s. That all sounded good right up to the point where I didn’t get moving early enough to make it to the race as early as planned. I got there and signed up and went to get ready. That is when we realized that we only had maybe 10 min. to really get ready. That was just not going to work out so the decision was to move the entries to the 4/5 race.
Let’s talk about the course a little. The last two years there was a section that went down / up to a lower boat ramp section. This year with all the high water, that section of road was still a muddy mess and not used for the race. Some people probably preferred that as previous years I heard some comments on the climb out of the boat ramp being difficult. I have had some issues with it too, but the rest of that section seemed to be worth the effort. Now we were going to have a 180 degree turn followed by a very long straightaway and right in to another 180 degree turn. The turns were not really a concern to me, but the accelerations out of that corner would be my weak point.
The race started and we were off. I stayed with the front pack for a few laps. It is really hard to remember just how many because I moved around some and also had a few times where I was about spit out the back. I was pretty happy with how it was going, but we had a lot of time left in the race and the legs were going quickly. Out of one of the 180 degree corners I could not make the acceleration and was dropped from the group. I was not too upset because I didn’t have very high expectations.
Not too much later I joined a few other guys and we had a nice little group riding for a while. We worked together fairly well, but the things that were not good for me was that I could corner much better than they could. I didn’t have an issue dropping them on the 180s, but I didn’t have the legs to be out front the whole time and one of the laps I tried to get farther back in the pack, I ended up behind a guy that really could not corner the 180s. He almost came to a stop on the back to back corners and then he would sprint out of the corner. Needless to say the second corner after having to slow down way too much to keep from hitting him, I didn’t have the legs to power out of the corner.
Now I am really in no man’s land. There was a rider or so behind me, but they were farther back than I wanted to sit up and wait for. I just continued to ride along as best that I could. I saw the pack catching me, so I eased up and moved over to give them plenty of room. The next time I passed the start finish I was told I was done. I was pulled because I was lapped. Overall I am not too upset with everything. I was pulled with only 3 more laps to go, so I am pretty happy that I held on that long. I do wish I could have seen just how long I could hold on to that group. I should have dug deeper to bridge the gap and then work on moving up in to the middle of that pack. Stay away from the ones to corner the slowest, but yet try to recover as much as I could on the rest of the loop.
It is really hard telling how much longer I could have held on, but I sure wish I would have. After this race I always get the urge to do more crit races. They can be a lot of fun and there are a lot of good people around. I would just need to work on my power out of the corners a little more if I really wanted to have a chance to stay with the group. Maybe next year
I want to thank 40lb Sledgehammer for putting on this race. It has been very fun every year and I will be back next year if at all possible. Not real sure what is in store for the rest of my off road racing season. This weather has really messed up a lot of races and some are not going to be rescheduled. Right now my main focus will be to try and peak for the Gravel Grovel. I really NEED to get below the 5 hour mark. I know I can if I work at it.