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Jacksonville, FL, United States
In Life as well as in running the secret is Pace.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Old City Crit

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  My heart rate was pegged and fear and trepidation had been replaced by competitive instinct and the thrill of racing.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


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