Before I write about the crit last Sunday, I want to share a couple conclusions that I came to this weekend.
#1 I hate Big Town Hero sandwiches. They are disgusting, unless you’re the type of person who enjoys limp iceberg lettuce saturated in mayonnaise, lathered onto a tasteless piece of soggy bread, and topped off with sweaty cheese and room-temperature meat. I ate a terrible roast beef Big Town Hero sandwich about 4 hours before the Albany crit and I could feel it turning over in my stomach well past 8PM. And I had terribly loose bowl movements that night too. If you ever think about eating at Big Town Hero, be prepared to spend some serious time on a toilet.
#2 Chris Swan and I were meant to be on the same team. After talking with him on Saturday, it turns out our cycling pasts over the last couple years have been eerily similar. For one, we both had the same OBRA number our first year of racing. We both got 58th place in collegiate nationals (him in 2006 and me in 2008). We both had trek 2200s for our first road bikes. And to top it all off, during this conversation we were having while watching the cat 4 Rehearsal race, I discovered that we both were using the same Fred Meyer plastic bags for holding our post-race food.
#3 I know I had a third conclusion but I forgot what it was.
Before heading down to Corvallis to stay at Tony’s sister’s house, Tony and I stopped off at my parent’s house to scrounge for more food, where we ate our fill of hamburgers and salad. We also stole a bunch of other food from the pantry, which has sadly all been eaten already. During dinner, I thought it would be a good idea to show my parents and their neighbors (who were over for dinner) the music video for the song “No Handlebars” by the Flobots. It’s pretty cool; check it out here.
After dinner, we drove down to Corvallis to sleep at Tony’s sister’s place (it won’t be the last time I sleep over there). Oh snap!!
The gun went off (there actually was no gun) at 4:15 under some menacing-looking dark grey clouds. I had been waiting around at the course, crossing my fingers for dry pavement, since 10:00, so I was very ready to get on with the race.
Amazingly enough, I had lined up near the front for once and got clipped in immediately. I spent the first five minutes near the front and took a couple pulls, then slid back into the pack a bit. The course had 7 corners, all of which were clean. It was a fast, flat course, and the 40 riders (I’m guessing since the results don’t show everyone in the race) were eager to pull hard.
Breaks began to go off, but nothing seemed to stick. Rubicon sat at the front and chased everything down. Including their own guys (no surprise there). I moved back towards the front after about 10 minutes of wheel-sucking in the rear, and began attacking. A number of breaks I was in contained Rubicon riders, but none of my attempts turned into anything worthwhile.
About 45 minutes into the75-minute race, I managed to get away with a Rubicon guy. We traded pulls for 3 laps before he fell off my wheel. But Mark Hibard had bridged up to us a couple laps earlier, and was willing to work with me. So it was the two, team-less riders off the front for another 3 laps. We built up a decent gap, but were reeled back before we got too far off.
Chris Swan and I broke away a bunch of times too, and it would have been sweet to win with Chris, especially since he didn’t have any teammates either. But the damn yellow Rubicon lads were relentless. Unless they were treating the crit like a workout, their strategy didn’t pay off in the end, seeing that they didn’t place even one of their 8 riders in the top 10.
With 9 laps to go, I stopped being so aggressive, and just sat in the pack. Conserving and waiting. I held a good position throughout, sitting between top 10 and top 15. But with 3 laps to go I lost my spot and 15 people came by me. From then on, it was difficult to get up to the front. I didn’t want to be in the top 5 because I thought that would have been too far up (in hindsight it would have been great). So I tried to maintain top 10, which is where everyone else wanted to be also. I would pass 5 people on the right, only to have five other people pass me on the left. I ended up with a shitty position coming into the last corner and sprinted to 13th place. The sprint master, Nick Skenzick, took first.
I was very happy with my performance this weekend and during the crit, even though my result sucked. It was the first crit that I have done this year where I felt aggressive, in control, and fairly competent in the corners (although there are probably people who were behind me that disagree). This is how I felt during cat 3 crits my first year–strong. Before Albany, my crit racing has been terrible all year. I had poor performances in the collegiate crits as well as the Willamette Planning Mill crit. Now I’m actually looking forward to the next one: either Firecracker or Swan Island. I’ll have pictures posted of the crit once some teammates send them to me.