Due to my knee problems over the winter I got off to a late start with competitive cycling this year. I’ve been doing the Tuesday night practice crits at Carondelet Park the the past six weeks or so. Today I finally rode my first race race of the season, the Edwardsville Criterium.
The race started at 1pm. It was 97-ish˚F. A fairly large group started, seemingly well over 50. Despite my best effort to get towards the front at the start I found my way to the back of the pack and I spent the first third of the race yo-yoing off the back. I had to close a number of gaps left open by riders in front of me. By the halfway point I moved up about midway through the dwindling pack.
The race didn’t particularly suit me. It had seven corners, four of them sharp and narrow. Let’s just say cornering isn’t my specialty. It was flat. I prefer hills. It was hot. I’d take 40˚F over this any day. That having been said, I’ve been making strides in each of these areas.
When the lap-remaining count reached single digits I started moving up a few places each lap. When the bell rang with one lap to go I was sitting comfortably in the top ten and still moving up a bit. Unfortunately my efforts to move up from so far back took their toll and I had nothing left for the final sprint. I got swarmed with about 200m to go and fell to 17th before crossing the line. 42 riders finished.
So it was a good race, not great. This was actually the first cat 4 crit where I finished with the lead group (it’s been over a year since I last raced). It was also the first race where I brought my spare wheels to the wheel pit, though thankfully I didn’t have any mechanical incidents so I didn’t have to use them. There was one crash about five laps in that I safely navigated around. I don’t think anyone was injured.
I recognized a number of other rides from the Tuesday night races, but I don’t actually know any of them. The only person I knew there was former Wild Card rider Mike, who rode the cat 3 race later in the afternoon. That race had a nasty crash in the final corner of the final lap, with two or three guys flipping over the barricades into the crowd. Yikes!