This afternoon, I rode my bike to Fayetteville watch the conclusion of the Joe Martin Stage, which consisted of the men's and women's criteriums.
We are fortunate to have an event like this in our area. It is a four-day event. The initial event was a time trial. Following that, there were road races on Friday and Saturday over the same roads we ride in these parts. According to the announcer today and TV news reports, there were 700 cyclists from 20 countries and all 50 states competing.
I met four of these cyclists on my ride yesterday, and they were very courteous and engaging. I was duly impressed.
But back to the crits today, these people, the men and the women, are scary fast. They can ride uphill (in the big ring) faster than I can ride on the flats (and maybe even downhill). As I moved from one part of the course to another today, I found myself at the bottom of a hill where there is a 90-degree turn. Did I mention that these people are scary fast? I forgot to add that they can can corner, at speed, in a bunch, and make it look easy. It was slightly warm today, and when the peloton flew blew, it created a nice breeze.
As I was leaving to ride home, I noticed a truck with probably a dozen Pinarello Dogmas loaded and ready to move to the next venue. I rode past a wheel staging area with a plethora of Zipps leaning up against the vehicle and trailer. What a candy store! Those are just the ones that caught my eye. There were plenty of other high-end models from all of the big manufacturers.
This was the 35th year for the Joe Martin Stage Race.
If you ever have the opportunity to attend this race or one like it, go for it.
A guy I ride with now and then (Eric Marcotte of Elbowz Racing) placed second in that Pro-1 crit. He does training rides with my team now and then, and is almost always at our Tuesday night "Underground Criterium". When he is, everyone else is racing for 2nd. I refer to him affectionately as "Mr. Freaky Fast", and there is a lot to be learned watching him and listening to what he says, as he gives tips before and sometimes during the races. It's quite the experience to be going as fast as you possibly can, and have someone come up beside you, lay a hand on your shoulder, give you advice, and then ride away. Eric has the most amazing form on the bike I've seen. Solid as a rock, really aero, with only his legs in (rapid) motion. He takes the uphill part of our crit course at 30mph - when he launches an attack, he is gone before you can even think of jumping on his wheel.
Edited to add: If you haven't seen a pro criterium, I highly recommend it. Amazing stuff.