Sunday, May 31, 2009

2009 Halifax Criterium - Race Update

Awake at 4:30AM I was at the venue real early so it gave me the chance to check out the course. The city had patched and paved the rough sections so it was in excellent shape. The weather had finally cooperated with a warm sunny day as well. It was shaping up to be a great racing day!

I was adamant I would not volunteer this year but focus solely on the race. At the last hour,heeding the call,I said I would help sweep the course prior to the first race at 9AM. Somehow I ended up doing the whole loop myself and, thankfully, it was relatively debris free for the most part.

I got back to registration around 9AM and placed my race numbers on my jersey. On the way to put the race number on my bike DM,in full racing kit, asked why I was not ready. Seems the Master B/C race started at 9:30AM.I was under the assumption it began at 10AM. Holy Hanna! KT got my bike number on the top tube while I geared up at a record pace.

Not the way to prepare for a 40 minute plus two lap criterium against a strong field that I was soon to discover. Two quick laps around the course and I was stopped at the start line. Hardly enough warmup to say the least. To my utter dismay I saw that the first row of riders were all Senior 2-3 level Masters; guys who usually race Open Mens(Elite).

What the Hell! Turns out BNS will let the Elite field also race their respected age categories as an incentive to come out and race as the criterium races are short(40-60 minutes). It is hard to get guys to travel from across the province or New Brunswick and PEI for a race of 60 minutes. While I understand the logic my sense of impending doom was overwhelming.It is a challenge for me to finish with the usual cast of Master B-C characters let along against experienced Open Mens veterans.

The race began and was immediately fast but I was hanging in for the first three laps. On the forth lap I found myself at the front heading into the forth corner.Immediately an attack went off heading into the start finish and I did not have the legs to respond - by the time I grabbed a wheel a gap had formed and I,among a handful of riders, got dropped. Damn!

I joined a chase group of four riders but we were not catching the Senior 2-3 led Masters pack. The pace was simply too high. Undeterred our little group kept pushing, swapping off pulls, and working hard. Eventually even our pace resulted in casulties as we lost two riders and were down to three.

Before long a breakaway group of two Mikes Bike Shop riders lapped us so we knew the main pack was not far away on our six oclock. One lap later they passed us just past the startline. It was my opportunity and I planned on taking advantage of it so I jumped on the back after the second corner.

My notorious habit of being a slow starter bit me on the chamois again. In the chase group my legs got stronger each lap and back in with the main pack I was feeling stronger as the race progressed.A little to late since I was down a lap but I figured I would push as hard as I could for the final fifteen minutes. It was alot of fun! The sweeping corners made for some fast curves followed by accelerations on the straights. Yippee!

Finishing with the main(chase)group I was happy with my second half of the race knowing that one moment of hesitation and my cold legs proved my undoing in the first half.Rats!Including the cool down lap after the finish and walking the bike to the car the computer was showing 30.3 km with a 33.8kph average.Hard to fathom what the leaders did!

Back in civvies I got out on the course as a spectator and snapped some photos. Overall it was a good day, albeit with a nasty crash. Last word was the hospitalized rider from New Brunswick was OK and his team mate gutted out the Open Mens race covered in road rash. Wow!


The Dickinsons said...

sounds intense! love the photos!

Murray Yazer said...

Great story Geo... I really miss being there... I was thinking of you guys today. It's so great there was a sunny day. I guess we paid our dues to the weather gods all the other years!!

Anonymous said...

2009 Halifax Criterium Race