Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Race Report: OBRA Criterium Championships

©Matthew Lasala
Photo By: Matthew Lasala
So the OBRA crit championships were this last Saturday in Bend, Or.

It was a beautiful day and a really great course through a residential area in the southwestern side of Bend. I'm not exactly sure how they got all the people in the neighborhood to sign off on the idea of having the race through their streets given they couldn't park there the entire day. But I'm very glad that they did. It was a really fun course. Very tight corners set on a slight hillside made a  lot of technical skill a prerequisite to do well (Or balls of steel.). There was a hill on the backside of the course up part of a roundabout back up on to the finishing straight which made things pretty tough.

My race wasn't until about 2:30 in the afternoon (Which I love. Although it does suck up an entire day.) so I didn't leave Salem until about 10 am. If figured that would give me plenty of leeway in case of traffic or pit stops and what not.

The drive over was nice. I got to listen to a couple podcasts and some music to set my mind straight and get in the groove.

I arrived with about an hour and half to spare. So I got ready. Dropped off my pit wheels, signed in and watched the remainder of the juniors race along with some of the women's race.

Then I went to work starting to warm up. I've found it best for me to be running pretty hot from the very beginning in a crit or I struggle a good portion of the race just trying to meet the accelerations out of the corners and up the hills. So I did five minutes of fairly hard effort along with some thirty second jumps to try and get the legs to wake up. Then I spun until about 10 minutes to start.

As I rolled up to the line I was kind of surprised at how few jerseys I recognised. I guess between the Twilight Crit (In Portland, not the one in Eugene.) the night before. Along with the 3 hour drive it keeps a lot of the valley guys away. Which is to bad. The race was run flawlessly and it was a lot of fun. Meh. I guess most Valley folk are a fickle bunch. Although I think the 3 hour drive mark is about as far as I would go for a day trip to a race. Any farther than that and I would be to tired from driving to really put out a good effort.


When the whistle blew it was balls to the wall for about 4 or 5 laps. I got  a good hole shot but lost several places in the first few corners. As we were flying around several things became very apparent.

First that the elevation does effect things in a couple ways. You can go a couple miles an hour faster. I was seeing speeds about two miles an hour faster pretty consistently.  It also made me start seeing stars a bit quicker than normal. Which wasn't to bad. But trying to make a break stick or chasing something down would prove to be "interesting".

Another was after a long (ish) straight away at the bottom of the course we would make a right hand turn to an uphill portion of a round about. And going from this downhill to an uphill with a tight corner made for some of the quickest transitions of speed I've ever done. Like from 30 mph to 15 mph within a stretch of 50 feet. I was smelling burnt rubber and in my oxygen derived state it took me a while to realize it was brake pads melting. That's a first for me.

And probably the most supposing thing. Although not entirely unexpected. Was that guys were racing pretty cutthroat. Most every 4/5 race I've ever been in if you told some one you were on their left coming into a corner they will give you the space as a curtiousy. Not so much here. You had to fight for wheels.  I don't know if it was an east side thing. Or perhaps given my run in with people earlier this year in Bend maybe I am developing a reputation. I don't know... But there were several times I would let a guy know that I was either side of them and come the next corner they were chopping me on principal alone. So I learned real quick that I was going to have to be a little more assertive with myself.

We when round and round. And with every lap the grenading brakes at the bottom of the course and then fighting back on to the wheel in front of me up the hill was a testing fight.  I was hoping that I could get towards the front before the end so that I could take a clear line through the final corners. I knew that was the only way I was going to be able to contend.

I'd love to say that that's exactly what happened. Unfortunately that wasn't  the case.

With one lap to go I was on the inside about half way through the pack and I was just waiting for the inevitable.

 And it happened....

 I heard that terrible sound of metal and carbon sliding across the street. Luckily it was behind me. But it's one of those givens in lower category racing (Although I was hearing later it was pretty bad this go around in the upper categories too.). Guys get excited, their brains are in oxygen debt and aren't thinking clearly. And guys always seem to think they can pedal through those final turns. But on this course there was no way that was going to work. The last three corners on that track were all off camber. Add that to speed and the lean that guys are putting on their bikes and it's an equation for disaster. Luckily it appeared afterward that no one was seriously hurt. But it definitely took half a dozen or so people out of the race. But that's just the way it is sometimes...

As we made the final corner into the finishing straight I was shocked to see guys easing up. And they didn't appear to be out of gas. I can understand not wanting to contest the sprint for safety reasons if you're not in contention. But I've always been of the opinion to finish as strong as you can. Maybe not sprinting for 30th place or anything. But still. Just seemed like an odd thing to do.

As I rolled over the finish line I really had no idea where I was at in the placings. It was a jumbled up mess of bikes and bodies. I honestly thought I was pretty far back. But was pleasantly surprised with an 8th place!

 I'll take it. Considering my condition (The utter lack of a sprint that I have had the last month or so.)  and constant hill repeats from an almost stand still for 45 minutes I feel pretty good about it.

This coming weekend My love and I are riding with two other couples up the Aufderheid​e‏ highway between the Mckenzie Bridge and Oakridge. I'm really looking forward to it. The ride is suppose to be roughly 70 miles each way and it's a two day trip. The weather is going to be great (Although hot.). And I'm excited for a change of scenery. Until then....

Rubber side down,

Big E

1 comment:

  1. 8th at the state crits? Stellar! A friend of mine did the Aufterheide ride a few weeks ago, pics were beautiful.