Thursday, April 28, 2011

Where's The Podium? #5: ECCC Championships Crit - 20th

The previous day's road race at the 2011 Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference Championships at Penn State University rendered itself unexpectedly pleasant to David, finishing a well earned 7th, and me with a 3rd place finish. After heading back to IUP to recover and clean the bikes, I found my thoughts of Sunday's PSU criterium similarly daunting with what I remember from 2009. A lot of pain and me being unable to hang on had me pull out of my race early back then. This time around, I had more revenge to take and I believe I made the best of my opportunity there. David, on the other-hand, did not fair so lucky in this technical 1 km race course.

Mens D1 crit had David unfortunately starting at the very back of the pack. His race erupted right away with sandbaggers fast riders working off the front from turn one. I knew this would be a near impossible task to get to the front for David. Those leaders were gapping the field the whole race. Anyway, David went down just before the most technical part of the race. I saw his eyes look right at the curb and his bike slid out from under him. He took some nice road rash and scrapes, but jumped right up. His bike was quite out of focus from that point on, but he up and ran to the spare wheel area and hopped right back into the crit. From then on everything seemed to be a bit off for him and he was eventually pulled. Nevertheless he rode a strong effort and stayed in as long as he could. The tough effort he gave the day before and a crash with a bike not fully recovered will throw anyone's game off. With his race finished, the D2 mens race was to go off before my combined C1&2 crit. I took that time to warm up and get to the race line-up.

I started on the line 3rd row back. I guess it was fairly middle of the pack, but I sure wish I has been able to get their earlier. Either way our race was high-paced and at least to my knowledge, wreck free. I guess i heard that one or two guys went down, I got close a few times, but the technicality of that crit was amazing. The fast turns, the quick pace, the big digs, the fights for positions. All of this made for a crit I really enjoyed.

The more crits I do the more I like them. They are about pain and soaking up the suffering with quick decisions to be made and no room for mistakes.

The beginning of my race, I was a bit sketchy. I was in pain, I was pushed back, and suffering. I did not know the turns too well, let alone at speed and I was around riders that I knew I could/should be beating. This was much more technical than Steel City for sure. I figured out that if I give a real good effort on the final stretch of each lap, with a lap of recovery tossed in every so often, I could get some real gains in positioning. Not panicking is very key in cycling. No matter how difficult or lost things may feel, you never panic. So I gained more positions and when the pace was really let up at the front I actually lead through a few turns. I was very happy with the form I was showing and the work and determination of getting to the front paying off. I bobbed amongst the top 20 from the last 1/3 of the race.

The end of the race had me suffering just as I had throughout it all. I tried to keep my efforts at a smart level. Turns out no sleep the night before will really sap a sprint and sharp minded positioning no matter how "good" I felt about my efforts. I lost positions the last 2 laps and ended out 20th. I didn't know I had slipped back so far, But I was not about to take any huge risks on turns - though I was getting better and better at flying through those bad boys as the race went on.

All in all, I enjoyed the race and was glad to know David was fine from his wreck (not taking out anyone else is key too). I tapped into an aggression that I only hope to keep a hold of. I cut people off for wheels when they were slacking, I never hesitated to work my way up - not caring who was sucking my wheel for a free ride, I jumped people when they were weak, I took the wind like I didn't care. That is the racing I will hope to keep up this weekend. We are off to Ohio this weekend to race around a lake and to see IUP Cycling's alum, Duane Corbett.

By the numbers... I just found my computer yesterday. Whoo! There is another nice surprise I ran into this week as well that I will blog about shortly. Stay tuned... thanks for reading!

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