Sunday, August 9, 2009

2009 Gate City Cyclone Criterium

Gate City Cyclone Criterium—Cat. 4/5


The Gate City Cyclone Criterium is held in tax free Nashua New Hampshire, thus providing an opportunity to combine bike racing with the task of restocking my humidor with cigars from the 2 Guys Smoke Shop.

I thought about trying out the masters field today (age 35+), but that field is notoriously stacked with the best riders. I figured I’d be better off racing cat 4/5 today, where the competition might be a bit less intense. We had a large group—I am told 70 starters. I recognized a few other masters in the field, plus a few others I remembered from the Working Man’s Stage Race. After the first turn, the course tips slightly uphill and rolls up to a minor league baseball park. The course then turns right and wraps around the stadium, which is only feet away at one point (so close they strap hay bales to the walls of the stadium). Next comes an “S” turn followed by a straightaway, a hard right turn then another straightaway into the finish line.

Can’t really say what the issue was but I felt a little off today. Part of it was that there were a lot of riders doing their first race today and I saw some real sketchy bike handling, which can screw up the rhythm. Also, some kid—the future of America—rolled onto the course on his skateboard, only to be passed on all sides by the pack. Part of it had to do with me, just never felt right. Maybe racing at Wompatuck three days before was a mistake. Anyway, there were many primes up for grabs in today’s race but I did not contest them.

The pace was fast (maybe because of all the primes) and a lot of riders ended up dropping out. Somehow I hung on and I got myself into pretty good position for the last lap. I was in good shape as we hit the “S” turn, but someone got bumped and swerved wide. I ended up needing to swing real wide in the middle of the "S" and there was hardly any room for me to exit the turn onto the backstretch. I was still squeaking through there when the hammer was dropped and I lost 8 or 10 spots in the blink of an eye. There was no getting back in the game after that. I counted 19 riders ahead of me on the warm down. I had hoped to fund the cigar purchase with prize money, but that wasn't going to happen today.

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