Following the Buffalo Trace trail race on Saturday morning I took Will for a three mile walk in the hot sun (hot for me, he was covered) to get a smoothie and some lunch. The smoothie really hit the spot. After we got back home I packed up my camera gear and headed over to the Tour de Champaign, the first of two days of bicycle racing in town last weekend. I had already pre-registered for the Sunday race. I didn’t plan to race on Saturday because of my running race that morning. Plans change.
After getting there and watching my friends in the cat 4-5 race I just had to do it. I borrowed some money, registered for the later cat 3-4 race, rode home on my commuter bike, changed clothes, swapped the wheels on my race bike (which also involved swapping the cassette and brake pads), rode back to the race, pinned on my race number (thanks Karl), handed my wallet and phone to Melissa (who had since walked over to the race), and went straight to the starting line with just a few moments to spare. It was hectic–probably not the best way to prepare for a race… particularly my second race of the day… in this heat… with this many good riders (I’m a cat 4, but this was my first race against cat 3 riders)… after walking three miles… I’m getting good at making excuses.
Needless to say, I didn’t have a stellar performance. I stayed with the main pack for a few laps, but the brutal accelerations wreaked havoc on my tired legs. I popped off the back and began chasing. Eventually I started working with my teammate Scott who was in the same position. Frankly this was probably better for us as we both have a lot more experience with time trial racing than with criterium racing. We worked hard together, though Scott was a little stronger than I was. After 20 minutes or so the main pack lapped us, at which point we stopped. It was too hot and I was too exhausted to keep racing that far behind.
It was fun anyway, and good preparation for Sunday’s race. I haven’t raced a criterium in almost two years. I was definitely not accustomed to the fast cornering in the pack and the accelerations out of every corner. So, if nothing else, it was good practice.