I have read many of the race reports posted here and thought I might begin to share some of my experiences. Hopefully they are well received and no one bashes me too much for being candid and sharing my stories.
In the beginning of April I participated in my first race of the year. It was the Sylvan Spring Criteriem in St. Louis, MO. The course was a beautiful 1 mile circuit through a park with one somewhat long climb, a real fast rolling descent ending with a sharp left turn, and a long straightaway to the finish line.
From the whistle I knew this would be a great race for me. The race was 35 minutes plus 5 laps. I stayed in the front 10 riders for the first 15 minutes, sizing up the field, seeing who looked strong. About half way through the race a prime was announced and right before the rolling descent another rider attacked. I went with him, sitting in his draft through the hills and around the corner. With the line in sight I got out of the saddle and powered by him to win the sprint and my first Cat 4 prime.
Satisfied with winning the prime I began to sit up. As I prepared to let the pack absorb me another rider attacked, probably believing the field would slow after the fast prime lap. Still feeling strong I decided to also go with his attack. Before I knew it the two of us were off the front with a reasonable sized gap. I buried myself for the next few minutes to try to further establish the break. I knew right away the other rider wasn’t as strong as I was and noticed he was looking over his shoulder frequently to check the size of the gap we had created. I encouraged him to work hard and stick with it. I needed to make sure he would stick with the break we had created. I found myself pulling for three fourths of each lap but I knew I had to for us to be successful. Our gap grew to 40 seconds on the field with only 5 laps to go. At this point I could tell we would stay away and began to plan how I would race the final laps in preparation of a race win.
At the top of the hill with two and a half laps to go I sensed trouble. Something was wrong with my bike. The rear felt a little less stable than it was supposed to, and in the pit of my stomach I know what had happened. With horror I looked down at my rear wheel and discovered exactly what I had thought. I had flatted. I let the other rider know right away that I was done and he needed to finish what we started by winning the race. I decided I would try to make it to the pit area half a lap away. I thought if I could get there and change my rear wheel before the pack caught me I might have a chance at a sprint finish for second. It wasn’t to be. I couldn’t get the job done and fumed as the pack zoomed by. I stood helpless in the pit.
On a positive note though, the other breakaway rider won the race with a sizeable margin and was very thankful to me afterward. He even let me know that he planned on letting me take the sprint at the end because I had done so much of the work necessary to make the break successful. Sure . . . I thought. I was going to win the sprint anyway, but I let him think at least that he would have something to do with it. Although it was a disappointing finish to a great race, at the end of the day I knew that I had the legs to win and was more excited than ever about my next race.
If well received I will continue to post race reports about my bicycling exploits. Thanks for reading!
Nice race report, Ron. Too bad about the flat. Most criteriums will give you a free lap. You should have been able to change your wheel and catch back on with your breakaway partner. As you said, now you know you have the legs to do it next time. Unfortunately, now the rest of the pack also knows you have the legs for it and they might not let you get away! Either way it goes, come on here and tell us about it.
Thanks for the reply. Unfortunately in this race we didn't get a free lap inside the last 5 laps. Otherwise things could have worked out differently. I will post a couple other race reports in the next few days after I have got them finished. Thanks for the support!