March 24, 2008

2000 Masters Nationals - Criterium

Criterium –
Usually crits are my forte, my thing. Over the years I’ve developed a pretty savvy racing ability that keeps me in contention and out of trouble on most any course. The course in Indiana seemed a natural fit. Narrow and short it would favor the rider who could hold their place at the front of the field and navigate through a field with aplomb. Hey, hey I thought….that’s me! Most crits have distinct corners but this particular course had more of a track and field radius to turns one and two, while turn three was a sharp, narrow mess of a thing and the final turn was a decreasing radius blast onto a short finishing straight of about 150m. The race started fast and I was holding my own near the front. Took a few pulls and managed to stay out of trouble for about the first 15 minutes or so. All along though I knew something wasn’t right. When you’re riding well it’s not a problem to stay at the front, move around and generally feel ok with hard exertions…but not today. It took tremendous effort to get forward in all the traffic and I just didn’t have the snap to stay at the front for more than a lap or two. A classic rule of thumb is to attack when you feel bad so off I went…straight off the front and straight back through the field and out the back, all inside of about 2 laps. Ouch!

Race Notes: A good friend had ponied up the cost of my airfare on the presumption that I could make a decent showing of myself in a National Championship and I felt pretty bad about my performance. So what’s the greatest way to ease your personal pain from a terrible ride? That’s right – Budweiser and karaoke in a small country bar in the middle of Indiana! So off I went to sample the local nightlife. As it was Friday there were plenty of people in the bar already and it was pretty easy to start up a conversation or two. There were lots of people interested in “the bike riders” who were in town (though I was the only one I saw in the bar…weird huh?), especially when I told them that we shave our legs intentionally – boy did that get some looks from the cowboys and cowgirls! Soon enough they fired up the karaoke machine and, with a bit of cajoling, I was up tearing the house down with a Red Hot Chili Peppers tune, followed by a crowd pleasing Bruce Springsteen. It was a blast! I drank too much (but was walking distance to my “hotel”), sang way too badly, and made friends with most everyone in the bar by the time the night was over. Great way to forget about the days horror.

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