Rocktoberfest Race Reports
My First Crit
Due to family visits and sickness, I missed all previous crits of my first racing year so I was pretty pumped for the famous "Roctoberfest". My two goals were to (1) stay vertical and (2) not get dropped! Rolan Jaramillo from NOBC and myself did a recon ride Saturday morning and ran into Elise, also of NOBC, who ended up winning the Woman's race. I was a little nervous about the road condition and took a run over the bridge at 25 mph and ended up flying through the air so I hoped we would slow down at least at the bridge. I arrived at the course at 6:45 a.m. to help, and Robin promptly had me moving ice chests with gatorade and water. I then helped with registration and finally had to got ready for my race.
After a good warm-up around the art museum, we were called to the line by Randy. Due to nerves I think, I missed my right pedal on about 2 rotations and next thing I knew I was near the rear! Well, the slingshot effect did not seem too bad or perhaps I had done enough Giro accelerations to think it wasn't too bad! I ended up staying near the back, as it seemed hard to move up and one time I was almost run off the road on the back stretch while moving up. A tri guy's shoe came out of his pedal causing a little excitement and then Anthony of ProBike got not one but two flats on the rear tire so he yells "see you after the race". Kurt of NOBC also flatted and could not regain the group and several other guys were off the back. At times I was max'ed out and other times fully recovered and chatting with Jeff V of NOBC. With all the cheering when we were going through the start line area, I did not notice the lap sign until we were at 2 laps to go. I then remembered that passing on the back stretch was not going to happen due to Randy's advice of the "crack of death" and "don't cross the centerline". So I got ready for an acceleration coming out of the last turn but someone in front of Quentin of NOBC and me was not ready and missed the jump so a little gap opened, Quentin went and I followed and then it seemed everyone was sprinting for the line even though I thought it was too early!! I sprinted for a long time and finally hit the finish line. YES! Finished with the pack and still vertical!! Ended up 11th out of 18 guys so I met my goals and was happy!! It was nice to see John M. of Adam's hang on for the win as he and a young one-day rider from Bay City Breakers seemed to have done most of the work. Oh to be 22 years old again! Rob Hickey of NOBC pulled out a podium finish for the club and got 3rd!
Learned a lot about crits, took a Cat 5 team picture, got my clothing order from Laura (thanks for all the work Laura!) and then rushed off to a family function still feeling the adrenalin rush!
Not Exactly My First Crit
Rocktoberfest is kind of a special race. Started seven or eight years ago by the Lakeshore Cycling club, and later adopted by the NOBC, it typically marks the end of the regular road racing season for many riders. It is also one of the few races conducted right in the city of New Orleans. Promoting races in the city can be challenging, and with the traditional Lakeshore Drive course still not quite ready for prime time, we had decided to try for City Park. It was only through the generous sponsorship of Cox Communications that we were able to secure the old Roosevelt Mall loop for this year's event, and even with their four-digit donation, the club will likely lose a lot of money on the race itself. Still, it's a fun course and there's nothing like having a criterium right at home, especially after a long racing season full of long weekend road trips. There's also the nostalgic fact, at least for me, that this was the exact location of my first bike race back around 1971.
This year I was officiating the race along with Adam Watts, but, as I often do for this one, I was also going to be racing the Masters race. That always means a minimal warmup and isn't really the ideal situation, but for this relatively low-key race it's not too much of an issue. I had also spent much of Saturday afternoon and evening at the ER in Baton Rouge with a family medical emergency. In fact, as I was walking through the ER I heard someone say "Randy!" It was Chris Alexander, who works there. Anyway, the bottom line was that I didn't get home until around 10:00, after which I had to get all of the race equipment organized and ready to go for 5:30 the next morning. Time was short, so the only attention the bike got was removal of my little handlebar bell and headlight.
So after the Women and Juniors races ended, I had about ten minutes to get the bike down off of the car, change clothes, and get to the start line. I was rushing so much that when I put on my riding shorts in the car, I got them on backwards. Believe me, when you stand up, you notice that right away! I managed to get in one quick lap of the 1-mile loop before the start, and a few minutes later we were off. I didn't really have much of a plan for this race, but I was glad to have teammates Brian Magendie and Mark Delaney in the group. The race started off with lots of attacks and counter-attacks, accompanied by a quite a bit of "spirited" dialogue among, and perhaps between, team members of NBO and Midsouth, both of which were well represented. At one point when teammates were arguing about things, Eddie Delgado from NBO looked over and commented "looks like things might go well for you today." Actually, I had hoped that NBO and Midsouth would spend the day chasing down each other's breaks, but I wasn't going to be quite so lucky. It quickly became clear that both teams were looking to make a break stick and were willing to bring along a couple of riders from rival teams, which unfortunately left to me and a few others the task of closing numerous gaps. Mark, Brian and I, along with two or three others, were doing a lot of work trying to close gaps every time a break would go without us. Eventually, though, a 6-rider break formed that included Brian, two NBO riders, two Midsouth riders, and one Jeep rider. Back in the pack, both teams quickly started to soft-pedal, and I wasn't really too sure what to do. I didn't want to pull the group up the the break with Brian in it, but since I knew it was Brian's first race of the season (work's been busy for him this year) I wasn't sure if he'd be able to stick. So I took a few little pulls in order to keep the gap from getting too big, and then I saw Brian and another rider starting to slip off the back of the break a bit. I stepped up the pace for about a lap, but when they regained contact I was only too happy to ease up. By then I was getting pretty tired anyway, so I dropped back a bit to rest. There was never much of a chase after that, so the break started to really pull away. Brian ended up 6th, which was kind of exciting, actually. I wasn't all that motivated about sprinting for 7th place, and came through the last turn maybe five riders back, but once the sprint started I couldn't just sit back of course. I ended up 9th. It was fun racing on the old Roosevelt Mall course under the old oaks.
The rest of the day's races went quite smoothly and we finished right on time.