in retrospect, doing a race withe the words "Grand Prix"in the title is really cool. In prepose it is more than a little daunting. So why you might ask, do I continue to do things on a bicycle that cause me so much fright, trepidation, anxiety, and unbridled fear? The answer is simple… it is for that moment, when the race starts and the fear fades to the background and is replaced by the most incredible focus that a man with adult onset ADD can muster. The fear is still there but I have little brainpower to process it because the focus is on the wheel in front of me, the next corner, and the race itself.
but… let me back up a little… one of the worries I had about this race was the fact that I would be riding it on a brand new bike
that's right kids… I would not be racing on my trusty, rusty, 2001 LeMond… but on a brand new Pinarello. Carbon Fiber, Ultegra, Asymetric frame, sweetness all around. But… new… and untested
Pinarello FP Quattro
Oh I'd ridden it home from the bike shop.. 8 miles… but… as proven by the fact that I asked the neutral support guys to adjust my saddle twice during my warm-up laps… it was not quite as dialed in as I would like.
there were over 50 lined up for the 4/5 crit… and the course layout while being kinda cool was challenging. But not in the way that I thought.
the gun goes off… and so do we. I was seeded about halfway back, on the outside of turn one. Somewhat as expected the field came apart in the figure 8 (basically 4 turns in 200 meters). Also unsurprisingly I cornered gingerly on my unfamiliar bike. Bridging up to the back of the main group through dropped riders wasn't easy but attainable. The extremely tight corner at the end of the back straight proved to be fun and fast when I had feared before the race that it would be where a crash was apt to occur. I thought the finishing straight would be the place to make a move and I was not wrong about that… and managed to move up.
the second lap was (as best I can remember) a carbon copy of the first but the third lap was my undoing. On the downhill corner of the figure 8 while sitting in the back third of the bunch a guy passed me on the outside… a good pass… he even told me that he was there.. but it spooked me a little, i took a really bad line, lost a ton of speed and was overgeard for the uphill corner. off the back again. I managed to catch back on by the finish straight but found myself not on the back of the group but in a group of other shelled riders. I pushed through them… and could see the back of the pack 20 meters ahead of me… but I couldn't bridge again.
I stayed in the race… dove through every corner… stayed redlined… for another 15-20 minutes but then I was lapped and pulled.
so… not a storybook maiden voyage for my new bike. There were, however some positives and lessons learned.
1. Once again I had a blast
2. I overcame my fear
3. sitting on the back is no way to race a bike
4. I would do well to remember one on my mantras "it's hard to get dropped when you are on the front
5. Racing in downtown Wilmington, DE was cool
6. Racing the exact same course that the pros raced on later in the day was also pretty cool
We did the Gran Fondo on Sunday… lots of hills but absolutely beautiful countryside
I really hadn't felt too well since I had a pretty intense asthma attack after the race on Saturday…
Yep… but I've got some antibiotics so I should be back at it soon.
The dude that wins the pursuit race in the yellow shirt at the beginning of this video is one of the guys who used to do the Tuesday night Guana ride with us. as well as killing it in our local and state cyclocross races. The kid has sick skills on a bike
To say that I was scared to race would be a bit of an understatement… I signed up in a fit of bravado a month or so earlier after a particularly good group ride where I had the legs to be up (and off) the front. In the weeks since my trepidation had grown to the point where I announced to my wife Friday when I got home from work that I had decided not to race…. It's a good thing that she knows me pretty well and therefore was not surprised at all when I began making preparations to leave early for St Augustine (the race venue).
I felt a little like I was shuffling away to my doom… I'd never done a crit… I know that they can be dangerous… Having lived in St Augustine for a decade I knew the area well… the turns were tight and the roads were bumpy… my two fears were causing a crash and being in a crash… pretty much in that order.
I looked on the registration page and saw that the Cat 5 race already had 30 entrants and with day of race signups our field was assured of being close to 50 riders strong. Oh dear…
We got there early… got a primo parking spot right along the course 150 meters from the start/finish line, and got out onto the course for a dozen or so warm-up laps.. being the first race of the day has definite advantages. Probably the best advantage I got was snagging the front row inside starting position… I'm not sure how I did it but it made a difference.
The race started with a whistle… I'm not sure what I expected but, not a whistle… half a heartbeat later we were off… and through the first corner without too much traffic… out of the corner of my eye I saw a rider launch himself out of the turn and up the road… the guy in front of me reacted and I jumped on his wheel… by the second turn we were hauling…. My heart rate was pegged and fear and trepidation had been replaced by competitive instinct and the thrill of racing. I dared not look back or anywhere really except where my front wheel was going… I got a little gapped at the tight turn onto Sevilla street… but on the straightaway I knew that the three of us had a gap… so I came to the front and put the hammer down…
As the race went on the turns got easier… as if my bike was on rails… we stayed away although one of the guys from the Pio Pio team out of Orlando bridged up to us…
On the last lap I knew that I should go from the front… hit the turns hard and try and get a gap before the straightaway but… fear crept in. you see I didn't want to be fourth… I really wanted to stand on the podium and I know from experience that I have a better chance of winning going from a bit further out but I do run a danger of running out of gas and getting swamped…
So I went into the last turn 4th wheel… and even had to break when the Pio Pio guy took a bad line through the final turn… and then the Team Kyles guy was gone… he was first through the turn and took off on the left… having swung wide in the last turn and with the other two guys between me and his wheel I had no chance… Racing to *not lose* is now way to put yourself into a position to win… lesson learned.
I did manage to grind my way (in the saddle) past the other two guys to take 2nd but the Kyle's guy won by 3 bike lengths.
Edging out the Pio Pio rider at the line
My wife asked me after the race.. how I felt about doing the race and coming in second… and I'll tell you exactly what I told her and I really don't care that it probably sounds silly.
I said "I could die happy right now… doing a bicycle race and finishing on the podium is really a dream come true"
That said… I don't have a death wish… and I really want to race again J