The sum rises again on Sunday.
Sunday morning I still had mixed emotions about what happened the day before. I can't get past the fact it was a 20 minute citizen race with 7 guys that nobody was taking seriously enough to even want to do the full thrity minutes vs. the fact that I was worng, what I did was worng, and I still feel bad about it. It won't happen again and I'm glad I learned this lesson early enough in my racing career that it shouldn't haunt me going forward.
The Bannock St crit is a long running crit dedicated to Mike Neilds, a promising young racer that had gone through some troubled times and cycling was his way out. I am not sure how he died, but his family is still involved in the race, two of his family were in my group. The race is held in the city streets of Denver. It is a .7 mile kind of figure eight course with a slight hill maybe two short city blocks long.
After taking my kids to the park that morning, I do the batton trade with my wife at some tennis courts between our house and downtown Denver and I am off to the races. I get to the course with enough time to register and warm up, only $10 for citizens, and $5 for a one day license, no day of fees and a very reasonable price to boot. Very beginner friendly vs. the $35 the day before. I had already written the check out and had included an extra $5 a day of fee for $20 and was so delighted that they had such reasonable fees that I told them to keep the extra 5 for the sponsoring club, which is a large Junior racing club based in the city.
The course was just across the street from the Cherry Creek bike path, a very long flat bike path that I used quite a bit thirteen years ago when I bought my first bike, a rigid mountain bike from Schwinn. It brought back a lot of memories as I hadn't been on it since returning to Denver this summer. I warmed up on the path for about a half hour, mixing in some sprints with general easy spinning. I then headed to the course to cheer on the citizen juniors which were right before the citizen men. I ran into one of the guys that was in yesterday's race and apologized to him for disrupting the race. He had no idea what I was talking about and laughed it off. Which helped. The citizen juniors had anybody and everybody racing, included training wheels, a gal being pulled in a tag along, and plenty of oversized and undersized bikes, horrifically mixed gears either mashing or spinning wildly, it was hilarious and a great time for all.
The citizen men's division had 13 riders with what looked like some very hungry young guns and plenty of almost fit older guys like myself. We lined up and had a few words, including some very ominous advice on where to find the ambulance. The start/finish was on a very long staight away and then a sharp left, sharp left, straightaway, then a hard left, soft right, hard left, downhill sharp left, short straight, short climb, soft right to the finish. Because we didn't have a chance to see the course beforehand, I had no idea what to expect but had heard it was very technical.
As the gun goes off, I get going pretty well and quickly jump on a wheel, the wrong wheel, as we head into the first turn we hit a mine field of pot holes and cracks, etc. Of course by the time I navigate the mine field I look up and there is a pack off the front, about half the group. Dang, its going to be a long day already. I make that critical mistake of thinking for a second about trying to bridge up and like I already know but I guess it takes a few times to sink in, if you stop to think about it it is too late. I should have just put my head down and burnt those matches, instead I took the easy way out and found a couple of wheels to follow and settled in to the race within the race. There were three of us for about a half lap then we lost the third on the short uphill. Right before we lost him I learned a valuable lesson about braking during a turn as we came in a little hot during the short downhill into a sharp left hand turn and my rear wheel does a little sliding but I let it go in time and rode through relatively unharmed. Me and my buddy spent the next ten minutes taking longish 1/4 lap pulls and get into a rythem.
We pick up and drop a few riders during this time. Towards the end, as we get the five laps to go marker, we picked up another dropped rider and I invited him to jump in and catch his breath, which he did for the next three laps. The announcer kept mentioning how well we were working together, I guess at this point the stragglers are usually just by themsleves. The starggler finally came through and said he would do what he could and pulled us for about half of the second to last lap. As the bell rings I am pulling and start to take it easy and the game is on. We half pull and half soft pedal the rest of the lap until the little hill. I downshifted, wound it up, and put my head down and just started giving it all I had, this was at least 300-400 meters before the finish but I felt good. Halfway down the starightaway I glanced over and I had pulled ahead quite abit, heard the anouncer sound suprised that we had a sprint going, and rode out the the last 30-50 meters feeling great. The three of us did a warmdown lap together. The guy who had hung on for the last five laps was very grateful, my buddy and I were comrades in arms, and we got along well.
Turns out I was sprinting for 8th place out 13. Big deal, no, fun, hell yeah. We never got lapped which to me proves if I had just buried myself in the begining I could have been with the front group and hopefully I have learned this lesson for the last time.
I am going to preride the Parker Main St RR course this weekend to see if it is realistic for me to race it, see if the climbing is managable. Other than that race in September, I think its time to think long and hard about what I need to do to get competitive in the mens35+/4s, I need to find a local team so I can add group rides in to my training, lose another 10-15pds (down 34 in the last 2 years). Put together a realistic trainging plan, and look forward. I am pretty realistic about how I compare, but damn it, I had a ball in the 4 races I did this summer and I can't wait for more.