Monday, May 11, 2009

Icebreaker Crit: 200 Miles of Driving, 30 minutes of Racing, 3 Beers and 1 Win.

After a two-week hiatus from racing, we got back at it at the Icebreaker Criterium in Eugene, Oregon. But not before getting in a Team Picture Day on Saturday...HV Style.

Followed by two hours of easy riding. Followed by two hours of easy beer drinking. And, for me, two hours later in the evening of easy stuffing my face with homemade Moroccan food.

Then off to the races on Sunday morning. Four hours of driving for a 30 minute race. Seems insane, right? Not when you simply make the race the mid-day climax to an all-day adventure around Oregon.

Burns and I, as is becoming our tradition, carpooled. I drive and fiddle with the heat every five minutes. She DJs. Usually with a mixed CD she's created for someone else. I'd feel like sloppy seconds, but she has really good taste in music and totally nailed the mix on this CD (including my current favorites by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Starfucker, Jose Gonzales and the Gossip).

Arrived about an hour before race time and immediately headed out to do a few laps of the course before the racing started. All right turns...ugh. Legs sort of dead...double ugh.

Thirty minutes later I'm spinning on the trainer, dripping with sweat and getting a head start on a healthy sunburn. "We Are the People" by Empire of the Sun blasting in my ears over and over again. Getting in the zone.

We line up at around 10:45. It's a small field, Mother's Day attrition leading to a group of less than 15. The whistle goes off and I stand up and start hammering toward the first corner. From somewhere over my right shoulder I hear, "God-damn-it, Lindsay," as I ride away, up front and alone for the first lap and a half. After about three minutes, my legs have finally reentered the land of the living and I coast along and wait for the field to catch up.

Once we are back together, its all about observing and evaluating the strength and weaknesses of the riders around me. Throw in some fast corners and attacks for good measure. I don't contest any of the prime laps, instead choosing to counter after each prime. I spend a lot of time at the front, driving the pace when it dips below 19 MPH. With at least two real sprinters in the field, I figure my best bet at winning is to wear people out and lengthen the final sprint as much as possible.

So I attack with 5 left, 3 left and with 1 left, I tell Anna that it is her turn to throw down some pain. She takes off and I grab her wheel. She hammers into the wind as I try to catch my breath and get into the gear that I want for the final 200 meters.

Coming out of the last corner, I stand and sprint out of the corner. There is about 150 left in the race, but I stay standing and sprinting. I'm hoping that going early has caught people by surprise and that I can get a decent buffer between me and the speed demons.

And this plan of mine, well, it works. Although I can tell someone is gaining in the twenty-five meters, I had given myself enough room to come away with the W. With a nice throw at the end for good measure.

My first W. Ever. In a bike race.

Maybe people get used to seeing empty road in front of them when they finish races. Maybe they acclimate to that rush of being king of the mountain (albeit, in my case, less of a mountain and more like an anthill).

I, for one, will forever have a snapshot in my mind of what that empty road looked like. (And how I could still see the spots in my eyes, and taste the blood in my mouth, for ten minutes following the race. ) It was a pretty sight.

Here I am with the reason I won that race, my leadout Anna, all smiles after a great first crit:

(Thanks Kenji for the photo!)

Then we drove home...and by "home" I mean where we spend every post-race Sunday....HUB. Beers on the patio with my favorite people. Anna, Sally and Jamie showed up with flowers for Tedder, Sam (who survived her first crit on US soil), Burns (who was second in her race, first Cat 3) and I. Mindy also showed up with a crown, which she insisted that I wear for the duration of the evening:

Burns, you'd better watch out...there's a new princess in town.

Or not. She always manages to have the last word.

Special acknowledgments to:

1. Anna, who survived her first crit without killing anyone.
2. Sallyanne, who stayed with the pack and counterattacked on more than one occassion. Rock.
3. Beth, who didn't have to rip my hands off because I stayed in the drops the whole race.
4. Sam, who was here only a week before being nicknamed Party Foul.
5. Jamie, who had no idea what he was getting into when he agreed to race with us and survived anyways. And appeared to enjoy being bossed around by his female teammates.
6. Tedder, who learned on Sunday that "oriental" is not the preferred nomenclature. It's "Asian-American," dude.

Forthcoming...a post on learning to ride the velodrome and Monday Night PIR.


Kristin said...

Dude, I remember the one and only time I felt that (silverton 08)...there is something so exhilarating and unbelievable about seeing that empty road in front of you. I don't think anyone ever gets used to it.

fixgear said...

Makes me think of Hincapie, when he finally won that tour stage...He said he was tripped out by seeing the timer reading zeros when he crossed the line- the clock started when he crossed the line.