Riding bikes is fun.
I just got back from a great ride. Nothing special, although i did ride the single speed for the first time in a while, just a fast spin around town accompanied by great weather and great music.
It's a good thing i like the simple act of riding a bicycle, otherwise this recent string of crappy results on my road bike might lead me to abandon it all together. But i like it too much for that to ever happen.
Yes, this past weekend was crappy. Actually let me rephrase that, the bicycle racing portion of the weekend was crappy, everything else was great. I enjoyed the drive, got to explore some fun new cities and met some good people along the way. If it hadn't been for those pesky bike races the weekend would have been fantastic. So how crappy were the races? well...
I did three races, paid $35 each, and raced a grand total of 1 hr and 5 minutes. yep.
I'm not fast right now.
Snake Alley Criterium
Nutshell version: Got pulled after 4 laps. Taking 10 seconds to clip in and running the first pass up Snake Alley was not a good way to start the race.
Everything leading up to the race went fine, got in a good warm up, did a few practice laps, became acquainted with my surroundings... then it quickly turned to s*it. First i missed my pre registered call up so started one row back of what i should have, no big deal though, still on row 3. then it got really bad. I must have been nervous because i started with my right foot clipped in. I never do that. When the whistle blew it took me forever to get my left foot clipped in. 10 seconds may be an exaggeration but i bet 25 people passed me while i was trying to clip in. It took forever. So there went any chance at a descent result. If ever there were a race where it's absolutely crucial to get clipped in immediately it's Snake Alley. Im such a boner.
Then, one minute later, were approaching the snake where the road bottlenecks and theres a crash in front of me, im forced to dismount and run the entire climb along with about 20 other poor fools. I'm positive that i would have avoided that crash had i clipped in immediately, but instead there i was, running awkwardly up a slippery brick road. It's possible i could have remounted and rode the hill, but you can only clip into one side of my pedals and the steepness of the hill makes it hard to clip in and get momentum. Plus i was feeling pretty frantic and was in what Steve Lavin would refer to as scampering hamster mode. Once at the top i had a sweet cyclo-cross style remount, but that was a minor positive on a day filled with negatives.
I quickly lost motivation and energy and pretended for a few more laps. The climb was killing me every time. When they pulled me i didn't complain.
This race is crazy. Crazy hard, crazy fast, crazy slow... and despite everything that happened to me, crazy fun. Or at least i see the potential for crazy fun. I really hope i can go back next year.
Melon City Criterium
Nutshell version: Dropped on the 3rd or 4th time up the hill, pulled myself after two more laps. Pissed off.
I was ready for redemption and liked what i saw upon arriving at this course. A fast circuit thru a park with a long steady hill. The race started fast, i sucked, end of story.
no pictures of this race, instead the pictures are from the best part of the day. Post race we went to the country for a pre memorial day celebration. I've spent very little time in the country, but this was great. The house was on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River and there was no noise except the sounds of nature... and occasional gun fire.
But really, it was incredibly peaceful and a great experience.
Quad Cities Criterium
Rock Island, IL
Nutshell version: Was feeling fine but got caught in a crash with 4 to go, no more free laps, nuts.
I felt pretty relaxed before the start. The prior two days had been shi**y so i had no place left to go but up. Plus this was a flat figure 8 course, no hills. I used to think hills favored me, but im starting to rethink that. As soon as the whistle blew i was feeling good. Halfway thru the first lap we seemed to be going slow and i easily moved up into the top 10. From that moment on i was in the zone. Totally focused and having fun.
The first crash happened close but didn't effect me. I stayed focused. The second crash was closer, but i was still fine and totally in the zone. Hearing the crashes made the race seem more immediate and serious. As in, 'dont fu*k up or you could wind up in a lot of pain.' Nothing else mattered but the moment. I like the simplicity of that. All the other bs of life is put on hold while you focus entirely on the task at hand.
The third crash happened right in front of me and there was no avoiding it. Around 10 guys went down on the long strait section over the start finish. I had time to slam the brakes and come to almost a complete stop before falling onto somebody. No injuries. I was up and pedaling relatively quickly but the free laps were gone and so was any shot at a decent result.
It's a shame, i was even thinking about taking a flyer. I probably wouldn't have, but just the fact that i was thinking about that was a major change from the first two days. I'm pretty sure i would have at least had a pack finish and sprinted at the end. I've only done that a few times.