Racing in North Carolina

Originally written in August of 2006

Here’s my report from racing this weekend – my first races in North Carolina as a Swami Cycling Club (I hope I did you guys proud).

I raced a 10 mile Time Trial on July 23rd at Lowes Speedway. I finished 2nd in the Cat 4 group with a time of 21 minutes and 24 seconds. This was also good enough for 17th overall. So I felt like my fitness was pretty good. This weekend was a big race weekend in Charlotte. There were Criteriums Thursday-Sunday around the area. There was also a Team TimeTrial on Thursday.

I took part in the TTT on Thursday with some riding buddies that I’ve been riding with in Charlotte. It was a blast and we all had a good time. Riding a TTT was new experience and I’m looking forward to doing it again in the future.

Friday night was a Cat 4/5 crit in Statesville. I had high hopes of doing well because I felt my fitness was coming up just in time for the races -but should have known I was in for an eventful night as my truck flatted on the way to the race. The course in Statesville was technical and hard -6 90 degree turns and for some reason, the course seemed to be all uphill.I was told to get to the front at the start of the race but the riders started lining up on the start line 15 minutes before the race.

I kept my legs moving feeling confident that I would be able to move up after the race started. My plan was short lived. I was at the back of the pack going into turn two at the bottom of the steep downhill (the only hill on the course) and sure enough, some guys tangled and went down. I tried to avoid the crash to the right and ended up bunny hopping up on the sidewalk, tried to dodge a haybail, only to find out there was a 2nd curbon the other side of the sidewalk. Thankfully, I was able to almost come to stop before falling over. I picked myself up and got back on my bike and tried not to pay attention to the screaming and cussing behind me. I thought for sure I’d be able to catch back on the main pack.

Well after 20 minutes of suffering, the leaders of the race caught me. I hung on to them for 2 or 3 laps and then called it quits. I was cooked. Turns out that out of 75 starters, only 14 finished!

This was a big wake up for me. Seems the crit racing here is a little different – ie….there are HILLS in the crits. Statesville made all I the criteriums I raced in San Diego seem pancake flat.

Saturday was the Cat 4 Colisieum Criterium. My confidence was pretty shot after Friday night and I just wanted to finish with the main group. The course was barely under a mile long and trapezoid shaped around a large parking lot. The finishing straight was a decent upgrade, after turn 1 it was a climb to the top of the parking lot. After making a sweeping 180 degree turn, it was all downhill to turn 4. We were entering the last turn at anywhere from 30 to 35mph. I felt pretty good during most of the race and stayed in the top quarter of the field. We were averaging about 22mph up the uphill stretch and several times I felt like I was at my limit and thought about dropping out. But I hung in there. The whole group was together on the final lap and I was on the inside of the course going into the sweeper at the top of the course. One rider attacked and for some reason I had an opening on the inside and nailed it. I put the hammer down and tried to close the gap to the rider in front of me. When I came out of the sweeping turn, I looked back and had a large gap on the field so I put my head down and pedaled as fast as I could. I didn’t catch the rider in front of me, but did manage to hold on and finish 2nd in the race. The good news is that I got my confidence back for Sunday.

The race on Sunday was in Winston-Salem. I didn’t get to pre-ride the course so I started at the back too get used to the course. It was a very cool course though a neighborhood. The streets were covered by big oak trees so we didn’t have to suffer with too much sunlight. It was another difficult course with lots of turns (6), a chicane and small power climbs. I don’t know how they do it here, but is sure seemed like the course was 75% uphill. The finish was once again an uphill finish. This race was super fast. We were averaging about 25-26 mph through the neighborhood and this went directly in a long uphill, right turn, more uphill, right turn again, more uphill to the finish. I was suffering during most of the race and tried to stay at the front of the group and made sure not to ride on the front of the group. I did win one preme though which gave me some confidence going into the final. Once again, the group was together coming into the last turn. I was on the inside of the last turn, but it didn’t work as well as Saturday. Coming out of the last turn, the rider in front of me slowed so I had to slow to get around him on his right. I figured I was out of the sprint but still went after it hoping for a point or two. I guess I had a decent sprint because I managed to finish 8th overall. Not bad considering the position I started the sprint in.

I started the 35 and older race an hour later. Big mistake. Turns out there were about 6 past national champs in the race. Plus a lot of Pro/1/2 riders. Needless to say, the first lap was fairly easy and after that, I didn’t stand a chance. These guys were pulling 28-29mph on the back side of the course through the chicane. I just wanted to stay with the main group and kept trying to fight back on after guys would pop in front of me. I managed to finish 5 laps before calling it a day. I was pretty much anaerobic for 3 of those laps. This was a real eye opener. I have a lot of work to do if I want to get that fast!

So Overall the results weren’t that bad, 1 DNFs, 1 2nd place, 1 8th Place, and 1 ‘Pro/1/2 guys are SUPER Fast’. I won a total of $135 and a pair of socks so I did get ‘paid’. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the racing so far in NC. The courses are super challenging. I’m looking forward to more races and getting better. I don’t know about making Cat 3 this year, but I’ll keep trying.


PS A group of us went to the Bank of America Criterium downtown Saturday night. It was super exciting to see all the Domestic Women and Men Pro Team competing in an event. Nothing like seeing the big boys race up close and seeing how fast the Pros really are. They can suffer bigtime.

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