If you don't know (and I barely know and had to look this up to explain it), a criterium, or crit, is
"a bicycle race held on a short course (usually between .5 and 2.0 miles in length) and often run on streets in the heart of the city center. Race length is determined by total time or by number of laps. A criterium's duration is shorter than that of a traditional road race and the speed and intensity...are appreciably higher." ~http://edwardsvillecriterium.com/?page_id=2Let's count the ways this does not play to my strengths:
1. It's fast, and I'm a chicken.
2. It includes lots of turns, and I'm slow on turns
3. Because of the short nature of the course, you're riding a lot more closely with other riders.
All signs indicate that I'd be a better volunteer than participant for this event, but since good sense has rarely interfered with my decision to do a race, I'm still toying with the idea. Enter the bike chase.
Wade was kind enough to let me invite myself to ride along with him, and since we left at about 6:30 that morning we arrived in plenty of time. My cheap $15 registration was now $20 since I'd neglected to register online in time. Oh, well. The t-shirt was a nice suprise. I'd actually wear this one.
We got to the race briefing on time but somehow just as the director was finishing up. There weren't too many people there, maybe 25 or so. I scoped out the other women and noticed there were a few others on road bikes then took the opportunity for one last bathroom stop.
This time, instead of hiding in the back of the pack, I lined up towards the front of the start line. My goal was to stick with the lead group of guys for as long as I could, and I did that with no problem for the first couple of miles. I was trying to look ahead of me as I rode to see if there were any other women in the pack, and I was a little worried about one rider with long hair until I saw the hairy legs. :) I managed to hang in there with the lead group until the hairpin turn...I just can't keep enough speed for those turns and can't make up the lost time fast enough to catch back up.
|Leaders leaving the neighborhood on the first lap. No pink jersey in that group.|
|Oh, there I am making the turn.|
We had to take a sharp right turn into the stadium and then ride up a short ramp to get onto the track. That was cool. The ride up the ramp at the other end made me a little nervous, and by the time I got to the top and back out on the street, I wasn't carrying much momentum into that hill that started the lap. Even so, the second lap wasn't bad at all. There was a downhill a few blocks later that was awesome. I love my bike. I'd shift as high as it would go then get low and fly down the hill. I kept gaining on people who were pedalling. That was fun.
Finishing lap 4 was a great feeling...just two laps to go. Or...were there? As I rode that lap, I couldn't remember if I was on lap 4 or lap 5. I thought it was lap 5, but what if I was wrong? What if I lost the race because I couldn't count? As Mike passed me coming out of the neighborhood, I called to him, "What lap is this?" but he couldn't hear me. I asked the man at the top of the ramp, and he checked and announced to me on the loudspeaker that I was heading into my final lap. Yes!
That last trip up the hill was a slow one, but I made it up thinking This is the last time I have to ride up this hill! I know I had slowed way down over the last couple of laps, and this last one was no different. I was still pushing, but I felt like I was pushing a loaded wheelbarrow. I didn't there weren't any women who were close to me, so it was hard to keep up my intensity, but I was really worried about somebody coming from behind me and beating me right at the end.
Coming into the stadium, though, that was so great. Instead of riding a half lap on the track, you rode around to the other side to finish...and when I finished, the only other girls standing around were volunteers. That's right...I won! I was so excited. My first win ever. :) And yes, it was a small race with only a few women, but hey...I was bummed to come in last of a small group, so I'm going to be happy that I came in first of a small group. The men's winner was 9 minutes ahead of me, and I was 7 minutes ahead of the woman who came in second.
|Me and my medal. No, I didn't sleep in it. Yes, I kind of wanted to. :)|
|With my tri club friends who were nice enough to wait around with me.|