So yesterday Adam and I when down to Eugene (The land of organic, locally grown everything. Eugene knows I kid...) to partake in one of the Twilight Crit races. This is a series of races that go on through the summer. They are very similar to the Tuesday PIR series up in Portland. With several distinct differences.
The first being the field sizes. Generally speaking the group sizes at PIR are quite a large. Not that it's necessarily a bad thing. But I prefer the smaller sizes of the Twilight series. At least in a training crit. I'm not out there bumping bars or elbows all the time.
Another thing that I like about this series is that team tactics can (Not always..) actually play a role. It isn't chase down every single thing that goes up the road and wait for the field sprint at the end. The Eugene based teams are usually there in fairly large numbers so if a teammate of theirs is up the road they aren't going to attack or pull the group back up to the break. Which I think is great.
It brings into play the chess game of bike racing. Who to mark. What teams you should worry about. And what riders aren't much of a concern. It makes it feel like a real race. Not just riding around in circles really fast until the final 200 meters to unleash a sprint.
The final thing I like about it is that the course is about as safe a track as you could possibly ask for in a crit. It's a large D-shaped course that's three lanes wide with very good tarmac. About the only thing you need to worry about are the little reflectors on the road. But honestly if you just relax riding over them is no big deal at all.
As for the race itself. It was pretty fast. 24.75 mph avg for our race. Which is the fastest crit speed I've ever had.
The attacks came pretty thick and fast for the first half of the race. I went with one that looked like it had the right mix of guys in it but it was reeled back in with in a couple laps. I was feeling good. I was never really in the red except right towards the end.
There were a few times when I needed close a gap that someone else was letting open. Or even a couple times that I found myself closer to the front than I wanted. But in general I felt like I did a good job of keeping invisible and following the correct wheels.
The winning break went up the road for the prime lap and never looked back. As soon as they went through the start/finish line and just kept trucking ahead I knew I was in trouble. The only team that wasn't really represented was Hutch's but after talking to a couple of their guys it was obvious that they had no real interest in chasing it down. This was all within about 8 laps to go. And seeing their gap grow bigger and bigger I knew they weren't coming back.
So I kept myself hidden and rested until the final sprint and did pretty well. I can't be sure but I believe I was second or third in field sprint. No one passed me during the sprint. Which was one of my goals. And I'm happy with that.
Adam did really well too. He was in the main field right behind me for the first 4-5 laps and I guess started to slip towards the back of the pack form there. Once the accelerations started to happen I guess he got popped off the back.
But he didn't give up. Kept chugging along and finished strong. He wasn't last and all in all I think he was pretty pleased. Which I would agree that he should be.
I got dropped like a stone in my first race too and didn't finish. And there is a big learning curve with crit racing. I can talk about the accelerations and the corners until I'm blue in the face but until you see it and experience it for yourself it's tough to comprehend. But I have good feelings about it and think he'll be mixing it up in the main pack very soon.
The results from the 4/5 race~
I'm thinking I may go down next week too. So I'll keep you all posted. Until then,
Rubber side down,