Racing tales from the great Pacific Northwest

Monday, August 8, 2011

2011 Tacoma Twilight Crit.

I hadn't been on my bike for over a week due to my calf injury but by Friday it seemed to be getting better so I decided to go out on a lite training ride. It only bothered me while pedaling on slight downhill sections. I couldn't feel it at all while climbing. It still hurt some to walk but I could tell I was recovering. Against the advise of most everyone I talked to I decided I was race. It was the last crit in Washington before nationals so I didn't want to miss out.

I decided that racing full on in the the Pro/1/2 field might be a little risky so I opted for the Masters open field instead. Not that the Masters field would be an easy race but the time was 35 minutes compared to 60 for the Pro/1/2 race. We rolled into T-Town early so I could get in a really long warm up. I found a nice spot in the shade and warmed up for well over an hour.

I rolled down to the start with about 10 minutes to go to get staged. The race was shortened by one block this year which I think was a good idea based on what I remembered from last year. Corner two was a little sketchy and US mail trucks were constantly trying to get out of their lot to brave the rain, snow, sleet......and they could not be held back.

I got to the line and saw a ton of big hitters ready to battle including two former Pros from Canada. My plan was to just sit in and test the calf for a few laps at race pace and then go from there. The pace started out fast and then got faster. After a few laps I was feeling pretty good so I decided to test it a little. I stuck my nose into the wind on the slightly uphill backstretch and drove to the front. Once I got there I decided to push it through turns 3 and 4. I got a small gap and stayed off the front by myself on the next lap. When I flew by the start/finish the bell rang for a prime and I knew at least few guys would want to shut me down and try to take it . Two guys did bridged up to me and I just got nipped at the line for the goods. We stayed out for one or two more laps but the wind backstretch proved to be too much and we finally got caught. My calf had tightened up a bit and as I settled back into the pack I briefly thought about dropping out before something worse happened. I moved back into the pack for a few laps and then decided I would stay in the race. The tightness never left but it wasn't getting worse either. I decided that just sitting in and finishing was the best thing for me to do. If a someone went off the front then so be it. Several more guys attacked the front but none of the moves stuck.

With about 5 laps to go things started winding up. I wanted to move up. Then, just like the movie Animal House little devil and angel characters appeared in front of me on my bars. The devil gave me a dirty look, yelled a few derogatory remarks and told me to get my sorry ass up to the front and try to win this thing. The angel quickly bitch slapped him to told me to stay put and be smart. There are more races on the schedule including Masters Road Nats. You don't want to spend more time on the shelf. For the next two laps I just stayed about 30th wheel and did nothing. With three to go the duo again appeared and the Angel was starting to tell me how smart I was and that it is only a bike race then BAM!! the devil drilled that goody-two-shoes right in the chops and sent him flying. The devil just gave me a look and shrugged his shoulders........Off I went!! I put my head into the wind on the backstretch and move up to about 10th wheel. When the bell went off for the final lap my brain switched into sprint mode and I blocked out the pain. I came into turn three ready to sprint it out when all of a sudden I see someone just ahead of me either roll a tubie or blow a tire. He went towards the curb. The field scattered and others started hitting the deck. Bikes were flying and I thought I was going to be the next to go. I had to slow and swerve towards the middle of the coarse to avoid one of them. I felt something hit me from behind but it wasn't enough send me down. I quickly lost all the momentum I had built up. I tried to accelerate back up to speed through turn four but something didn't feel right. I had no power. When I pushed with my right leg(injured one) something got caught in my back wheel and I swerved, going right in front of another rider almost causing a crash myself.(sorry about that) I had no idea what was going on but I couldn't go. I coasted across in the line in 19th place. I started to coast around the course for the cool down lap and soon realized something was wrong with my bike. I stopped and found that what ever hit me broke one of my rear spokes in half. My wheel was pegged against the brakes. Glad that didn't happen a couple of laps earlier. Oh well, I was still standing and as far as I could tell there was no further damage was done to the calf. Time for a beer.

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