pancake flat and only one corner, that's my kind o' race

Race report: Waterworks Park Criterium, Des Moines, IA -- April 2, 2006

Yesterday morning I had stumbled halfway from the hotel room to the lobby (where the free breakfast is) before I noticed that it was raining. Fortunately by the time we got out to the race course it had stopped, and except for when the 1/2/3 guys got sprinkled on for about 30 seconds, it stayed dry during all the racing. Whew.

It looked like about the same number of women lined up for the crit as for Saturday's road race, but the results list is less comprehensive this time so I can't be entirely sure. In any case, I lined up near the back behind my teammate Alix. Good thing, too, because when we started I couldn't get clipped in to save my life and ended up having to sprint just to get on the pack, which is never the best way to start a race, but at least I wasn't in front getting in people's way.

Right away a two-woman break got away, less than half a lap in. We let them go because it was only the first lap, and who the heck gets away on the first lap and stays away, really. The main pack got loosely organized to chase, but apparently there weren't enough people willing to share the work (which I heard later from someone who had been at the front -- I was just sticking on the back, not sure what was going on up there), so after a while we backed off and just assumed the break would eventually wear themselves out and fall back. And eventually we did reel in one of the girls, but the other just kept going and going and stayed away until she won. Oh well.

Meanwhile, women in the main pack launched short attacks over and over, not enough to start a break, but enough to gradually whittle the pack down to eight or nine and leave me teammateless. Two laps from the end there was a prime (noun, preem, an intermediate sprint for some lame-ass prize that you didn't want anyway) for what turned out to be free entry to a race I won't be at anyway. Nobody wants to sprint two laps from the end, so it was pretty half-assed, and we all regrouped immediately afterward and took a couple easy laps to rest up for the final sprint. I somehow got confused and thought we were on the last lap when in fact it was only the second to last, and found myself in second position behind a girl who obviously didn't want to be in front any more than I did. Thus ensued a match-sprint game in which she would slow down to try and get me to pull through, and I would refuse to pull through and slow down even more, until we came back past the line at about 13 mph and the announcer made fun of us.

Finally the others got sick of it and the pace picked back up with someone else in the lead. Whew. I sat in and tried to position myself decently, but I pretty much never made it to any bunch sprints last year what with getting dropped and all, so I really had no clue what I was doing. Andy pointed out to me later that I forgot to even put my hands in the drops prior to sprinting. Whoops. If anybody wants to teach me how to sprint before the Minnesota season starts on the 18th, I could obviously use the help. Anyway, despite my utter lack of a clue, I managed fifth in the sprint and sixth overall. Once again, if they had scored the 4s separately I would have gotten the phat cash, but what can you do.

Then we all stood around and watched the rest of the races, where the 4/5 race was also won by a solo break who stayed away for the entire race. After that the masters and 1/2/3s wised up and didn't let any of that monkey business get by them. Once Andy was finished we packed up and headed out in the Molester Van, stopping at Baker's Square for a lowbrow but tasty feast. While we were in there the heavens opened up and delivered a thunderstorm of Biblical proportions. We ran back out to the van, hoping that it hadn't flooded while we were in there -- one of the many problems with the Molester Van is that the windshield isn't sealed very well and it drips when it rains. (Travelin' in style, people, what can I say.) We got on the highway and joined the parade of people who were crawling along at 20 mph with their hazards flashing, but that didn't last long before the rain turned into hail -- HAIL! -- and we were forced to pull over and wait it out, mopping the top of the windshield nonstop to keep as much water as possible out. The bikes, of course, were on the back of the van, and I am afraid to inspect my top tube. Hail damage is one thing that I never thought would happen to my poor bike.

But we made it back okay. Apparently there were tornadoes around there, but we didn't see any (we couldn't really see anything, so that doesn't mean much), and obviously I am back at my desk instead of in Oz so it turned out all right. Now all I have to do is get a lot faster in the next three weeks. I can do that, right? .......right? Guys?


Blogger Caloi-Rider said...

Hey, you never know, you might just have the fitness all saved up. It doesn't get any easier, you just ride faster.
By the way, I finally purchased a Luna bar. My wife said it was delicious.

4/03/2006 10:28 AM  
Blogger annie said...

Well, that's a start. Next step is to take a little taste, but still let your wife eat most of it. You can gradually work your way up to eating the whole thing.

4/03/2006 12:47 PM  
Anonymous Stan said...

Primes aren't always bad. Whenever I go and watch a race I bring along an extra $20 to donate as a prime.

Sprinting at the finish of a race is something of a black art. It took me a couple of years of racing to get it. The un-obvious things I figured out were:

Use a smaller gear. If I was cruising in a 53-16 in the race, I went to 53x17 for the sprint.

Don't worry about where you're going. Just trust the bike to not hit anything. If your eyes aren't rolled back into your head, you're not going hard enough.

4/03/2006 2:11 PM  

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