June 08, 2011

My First Road Race (sort of)

EFTA's Big Ring Rumpus is a crit on dirt. 100% fire road, almost no elevation change, 7 4 mile laps...it is a road crit...but it's on dirt.

I figured this race would be good exercise, it is a pure fitness course - there is no hiding.

I was the only Junior and I was staged with my two friends, Nate and Fred, who were the only 19-29'ers. I dropped both of them by the end of the first lap. The 30-39 group started 2 minutes back, but there were a lot of them and they were working together. They split into two main groups. The first group went right through me. They went by so fast, I did not even consider joining. Rick Nelson was in that group, but got dropped. We rode alone together for maybe two laps. I pulled him, he was tired. I was cool with that, I was pretty honored to race with him. He thanked me for my help.

And then the second group caught us. I didn't think I would be able to hang on, but Rick went with the group, so I figured I had better as well if I wanted any chance of doing well at the race. Group riding was absolutely critical since speeds were 18 mph average for Cat.1 and 20 mph for the Elites. It was a struggle at times, but the group was pretty well matched for me.

The group (why am I not in the picture???) Photo credit: Rick Nelson.

I was pretty happy to be able to ride in this group. At the end of a lap with this group, a rider in front of me stacked it in a tight, CX style turn. I was right on his wheel, I couldn't stop quickly enough, so I kind of sort of rode over his front wheel. This person very likely was Chandler Delinks. He kept racing, and from what I heard, his stem was out of alignment slightly but his wheel was okay. We had a 5 or 6 person group and most people took helpful pulls. I took a few long pulls and even broke away from the group on the last lap, but I decided to wait for everyone because I knew I would be caught and I would not be able to make up the two minute difference (from the start) in a 12 minute lap. On the last lap, everyone was going balls to the wall. Out of the saddle attacks were launched, tires were rubbed, swears could be heard, etc...basically it got sketchy. To make matters worse, just as we were coming into the finishing chicanes with the aforementioned CX style single file turns, the Elites caught our group and so did another Cat.1 group. At this point, there were 20 guys fighting for a 90 degree left turn at 20+ mph. The Elites were fighting for cash, and the fastest Cat.1 got $200. Money was on the line and everyone was caught up in the heat of the moment. I survived the madness, but people did go down. Since I was the only Junior and everyone in all three groups was technically ahead of me, I didn't go crazy. If someone wanted to get by, I was more than willing to give an inch more so than some others.

I finished 17th overall, but times were very tight, given the nature of the course. A few madmen finished an astounding six minutes up from me, but most who finished ahead of me were
I enjoyed this race. It was completely different than anything I have ever done before and it caters to my strengths. I work well when I can keep momentum and don't have to do crazy climbs. I got a good workout and got to see what road tactics are like. Thanks to the promoters, it was fun!

I saw a bunch of people with cameras, but no pictures of me just yet. So, here is a picture of my dusty bike.

1 comment:

  1. nice race nathaniel. thanks again for the help during my "dark" time. for the record though, I didn't get dropped, a guy dumped it right in front of me in the chicanes on the first lap and by the time I got by the leaders had a 10 second gap and I couldn't close it by myself. of course, I probably would have been dropped eventually...