RACE REPORT #2006-1Criteriums @ StazioCAT 4
We got our new uniforms last Thursday – 3 days later I was pinning a number on the back of my brand new jersey and lining up with 70 other guys to go for the glory. I felt the typical mix of excitement and nerves that come on when you’re waiting at the line for the official to yell ‘go!’. It was a little intimidating to drive up to Boulder for the first race of the year. It’s like the cycling motherland. Lots of strong riders… Worse yet, it was a criterium – historically my worst event (did 2 last year – didn’t finish with the group in either one). This year things are going to be different. It was so easy to come up with reasons not to go, but I made myself do it. I knew I needed to get in there and face my reservations and doubts.
While we were staging for the start, I felt pretty relaxed. I lined up about 5 feet off the back row, just doing my own thing. Deep down inside, I knew that my fitness was good, I had worked hard over the winter, and that I could handle this.
I surfed the back of the pack for most of the race, counting on my strength to get me across any gaps that formed ahead. Definitely NOT the most efficient way to race, but it worked for me to get acclimated and as the race went on I felt more and more comfortable in the group. I must say, everyone was pretty well behaved in the corners and I never had any real problems – nice…
I had never been on this course before, but thanks to Google Earth (way cool) I was able to get a preview the night before. It’s a 1.1 mile rectangle with a hill at the far end (finish line at the top). Great course for me, not too many corners and a good power climb.
The start was fast, and by the third trip up the climb I could hear a lot of guys really hurting. I felt fine. Not great, but never under any real pressure. At one point about halfway through, I got a little lazy at the back and a group of 15 of us got detached from the leaders on the hill. I saw it happening and was able to jump across without any problem at all. We consolidated down to a group of 25-30 for most of the race and started lapping riders, making it very difficult to tell what was going on. I stretched my legs on the climb a little and led the group over the line with 3 laps to go. While I was still in the lead on the descent, a guy took off and got the best gap I had seen all day. I kept it steady for a while, and much to my surprise, no one chased. I jumped off the front and took off after him, catching him on the flat before the climb. I shouted at him to get on my wheel as I went by, but he just freewheeled over to the side of the road looking spent. Dang! I thought we might have been able to do something there. I took one look over my shoulder, realized that I still had a good gap and said – screw it, I’m going. It was too early for me to go solo, and I would probably be throwing away a chance at a good placing, but I was already committed.
I put my head down and motored the best I could, trying to measure my effort. The wind was a bit much for me and took its toll eventually. I spent two laps off the front but just couldn’t quite make it stick for good, so I sat up after I heard the bell signaling the final lap and the group swallowed me up. From there, I had about 60 seconds of recovery before it was time to jam up the climb for the last time. I was last place in the group going around the final corner and went outside and tried to slingshot past as many riders as I could. I got quite a few and ended up getting 12th or so. Not as high of a place as I would have liked, but all things considered, I was pleased.
My group averaged 25mph for the race – the pros did 28+. They had some pretty heavy hitters show up including Scott Moninger (won) and Tyler Hamilton. This is a pic of the breakaway in their race.
I went out for another 2.5 hours of riding after the race to really cook the legs. It was a nice day and I was a little behind on my training time for the week. I decided to tackle a climb outside of Boulder called Flagstaff. I had heard a lot about it, but had never done it before. It ended up being 9 miles of climbing, including some really steep sections. On one part I was standing up and cranking as hard as I could when I looked down to see my computer say 3.5mph. My cadence was 28 rpm. That was a slooow climb, but I made it and felt pretty good on the parts that weren’t quite so steep. The legs are now officially cooked, it was a good training day.