Wednesday, March 27, 2013

San Dimas Stage 3: Criterium

This is a blog post I'd rather not have to write. On Sunday I rode my first real criterium - nothing what I have done before compares to what crit racing is like here in the US. It seems in the US crit racing is the bread and butter of any cyclist. In other words, I was in the deep end - and I drowned.

First of all, there is the race before the race. It is CRITICALLY important to start off as near to the front as possible. Fail 1, I didn't have the confidence to elbow my way into the front. Secondly, once the race starts, you have to be ready to go full eyeballs out. Fail 2. I just wasn't prepared for this and struggled at the back, trying frantically to make up a few places in the line-outs, letting myself be caught out in the accordion effect. By the time I had managed to get back on, there was another line out and without a breather I was burning all of my matches quickly. I managed to do this for about 15min before my match box was empty and I trundled around the course for another two laps chasing, but to no avail. My teammates, all super experienced crit riders, had a blast with Jo sprinting into 6th place.

So, I just need to pick myself up off the ground and look at the positives. First of all, my teammates, support staff and bike are all absolutely amazing. My team are being super supportive, even when they realized how much I still need to learn. I  had not been racing on the road since July 2012 (which was my first year concentrating on road racing) to finish off my PhD, and the road races and crits we do in Ireland are just not comparable with regard to bunch size and standard. So I'm just looking for my confidence in the bunch now. I think I'm being signed up for some local crit racing before my next big race with the team. Our team director Jeff is great, he's super experienced with racing himself, in fact, he won the last stage of the 1987 TdF - the year that Stephen Roche won the Tour! So I'm in good hands here. Our mechanic Josh has been keeping our bikes in superb working order. He has been washing our bikes every day, and believe me, there is not much dirt settling on them in these super warm, dry and sunny conditions. And I've never before had so much equipment choice before a race - do I want to race on a 25 or a 23 cassette? The 32mm rim or maybe the 46mm? I can only say that my bike (Fuji) always works perfectly, the wheels (Reynolds) are amazing and the electronic shifters (Ui2) make sure that we always have perfect shifting, thanks, Shimano!!!

Onwards and upwards!

Here's some photos from today's training ride:

My and my training partners :)
Beautiful scenery here around Ohai

Capturing the view
Todays climb and descent - super smooth roads and very fast on the way back!

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