Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Opus- Week 6 -War of Attrition

Don't be that guy.

Tonight was the last of the Opus series, and the weather was great. I actually rode to the race- not that it is very far. I used my regular wheels and tires so I wouldn't shred my usual race tires. Anyway, seeing how backed up Crosstown was and that it wasn't raining, and that the Tour of 10,000 Lakes starts Friday, and I have class tomorrow and can't ride (unless I ride to work) and I work late on Thursday, and on and on and on...

Riding was a nice warm up, although I caught a few sprinkles. There was no line at registration, which was a bit odd. I took a few practice laps. Our team had a reasonable turn-out tonight. Anyway, the 4/5's was uneventful, except someone somehow lost his rear wheel on the first sprint. We took a practice lap and lined up for our race. Some unattached guy wearing a plain white jersey and riding a Colnago lined up right next to me. I mean, right next to me as in, in my personal space close. Anyway, I was playing with my heartrate monitor and joking around with some other guy when the whistle went off, catching me daydreaming. I started in the second row, fumbled a bit with clipping in. These new Nike shoes just haven't been as smooth clipping in as the trashed cleats on my Sidis. I clipped in, and we basically took the usual gentlemen's first lap.

Tonight I wasn't feeling so well. I planned on playing it a bit conservatively, but wanted to stay near the front, feeling the field might actually split one of these times. My tires weren't gripping the road like my race tires, and coming off the corners was a bit sketchy, and there were some guys taking some crazy lines. Anyway, I was staying near the front when the first crash occurred. This was during the sprint lap. I was lucky NOT to be on the inside, where I normally am on that curve, since I had just passed a bunch of racers on the outside. What a tactically stupid place for a move that will result in a crash.

I survived the sprint, staying with the sprinter's group. Coming back around I noticed a couple guys, including a teammate sitting on the grass after the crash, although I couldn't tell who it was. I drifted back a bit to recover after the sprint and to take stock of who was left, and what was going on. It looked like one of the unattached guys was out.

I played it safe during the next few laps, moving up to position myself for the sprint on six, recovering, then staying near the front when again, on the inside, there was a nasty crash involving several riders. It looked like over half the field was out. As we approached the line, we were informed the road had cleared. I hung on and had an uneventful finish. It literally seemed half the field, if even that, finished together.

After the race I hung out with my teammates, including the guy who went down. Apparently he was hit and lost control. He had nasty road rash, a cracked helmet, a rear wheel out of true, but otherwise was fine. We discussed how a few guys were riding all over the road. It truly made no sense tactically on the fast part of the course to try to gain any position when anyone can pass at will during the uphill part. We later encountered another rider who had an out of true wheel after being run into the curb during the second melee. He identified the cause of the crash: the guy with the white jersey. I implore you, dear reader, don't be that guy.

Two big rider errors. Two crashes. I'm not saying I'm perfect, but big sudden moves have no place in a race when riding in close quarters. Besides, it is only a practice crit. It is Opus. Save the big stuff for this weekend, when it really counts!

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