Monday, August 25

Saco Bay Criterium

(Category 4/5 combined, 30 minutes + 5 laps -- 7/8 miles / lap)
Unlike the race in Salem a couple weeks ago, Rami and I made sure to get right up on the line for the start this time, so we wouldn't get swarmed to the back. The officials counted down and we were off. Well sort of. Embarrassingly, I still sort of suck at clipping in to my pedals. I've managed to perfect the fine art of the track stand, so I almost never unclip at stop lights. While track standing is a great skill and handy, I've got no practice at clipping in other than casually when I start a ride.

Point being, I wasn't at the front as soon as we got started. This sort of thing wouldn't have bothered me back in early July but I've been slobbing around since then instead of riding, so my fitness hasn't been improving. Every turn we went around, I got passed by another guy, and another guy, until the third lap. That's when the race got weird.

The pace car slows down and the official riding shotgun waves this flag at us to neutralize the race, and the car and all the riders pull in to a nearby parking lot. Apparently, no kidding, there was a high-speed police chase coming through the town. We were on the back stretch but the main road where the start/finish was right across a field. We saw this car with all four tires blown out come cruising straight down the road followed by five squad cars. It was kind of awesome. I guess it was some meth'd out chick. A few minutes later I guess she crashed or something so the chase was over, so we went back and had a re-start.

Part of the criterium format of races is that they are based on time, not distance, so that had cut a bit of our time out. We went back to the start and had eleven laps left. I made sure to start back in the same position but it still took me one second to clip in. Then I was tired and kept getting passed until I popped off the back. I kept chugging along until I caught up with someone else that had fallen off the back and we worked together to finish the race.

The pace car passed us with two laps to go and then we managed to hold off the break-away of two leaders (who were about half a lap ahead of the field) until right before the final turn. I jumped on their wheel and finished third place. Except, a lap behind. The field was only 23 riders so I ended up getting 15th. The guy that I'd worked with was 16th and Rami was just a few seconds behind in 17th.

Lessons learned? . . . I don't know. I was tired, I don't know what happened. I haven't really been motivated over the last few weeks, and haven't been keeping up on training. Apparently I need to work on clipping in quicker. I wasn't very aggressive around the corners, either--losing a position each time. I think I'm a bit nervous that someone is going to do something stupid around a turn. However, I feel great taking corners very hard when I'm by myself. My Continental Grand Prix 4000's still grip great.

I think that about wraps it up for my racing season--there's nothing left for category 5's in the areas. Looking forward, we've got the Seacoast Century, a 100-mile diddle-ride in September, then the Portsmouth Criterium, which I've volunteered to set up hay-bales or whatever.

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