Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Blackberry Crit 2009: A Wet One

Sunday we headed to Bremerton on the 8:45 AM ferry, shooting for the 11 AM 4/5 race, to the tune of light rain. The last crit of the season, I was looking forward to it but also sad to see the season end.

Huge thanks to Kira coming to the event, and also for taking more great photos!

We took the ferry over, enjoying views like this of downtown Seattle: (click here for full photo detail)

The Race

I'd seen the course raced a few years ago, before I was bold enough to give this racing stuff a try. This year I was on the other side of the barriers, a competitor amongst 21 other hearty souls on a rainy day in September.

This is a classic criterium course, four 90-degree corners, but it wasn't quite flat - starting on a slight uphill, we took two quick lefts (featuring two manhole covers on the first turn) for the back straight-away, a wide section of decent road (with bumps and cracks though), a slight rise in the road leading to two more quick turns and a nice downhill leading to a slight uphill and the finish.

When it came time to line up at 11 AM, it was still raining pretty hard but we all dragged our bodies to the start - there was no line since the official said he didn't want to put down tape or paint on such a wet day, so a set of cones were used, though we joked that a big crack across the road could be used as the finish line.

After some opening notes from the official, our pack of Category 4/5 riders was unleashed onto the slick streets of Bremerton, and I quickly got in the first three riders of the pack, determined to stay up front for this race. I was sure there was going to be a crash or three, so I was hoping to stay out of trouble by staying up front (black/blue jersey):

The pack:

Mark, Off the Front:

Pack on wet corner:

With 10-15 minutes left in the race a few riders went up the road, attacking. Someone in the pack yelled "it's too early, let them go," and I stupidly followed the advice. It made sense to me - usually breakaways in a 4/5 crit don't stick, and there were still a few laps to go to the finish.

Whoever it was that went first probably sensed our slower-than-usual-rain-pace, and figured it was a good time to attack. Of course looking back I wish I'd tried to bridge up to it, but at the time it didn't seem like a good idea.

The breakaway, still away with about 2-3 to go:

Trying to stay up front-ish - and my arm warmers were now falling off but I didn't have time to fix 'em:

Alas, one rider (Karl Cunningham) in the break stuck it out all the way to the end - bravo!
As the final turn approached I was feeling the toll of the 2nd-to-last lap in which I'd dug a little too hard to get a good position for the last lap. Though I was still in a nice position coming into the final turn (4th wheel?), I lost a good 3-4 spots on the downhill, since I was gassed for part of the long sprint and got passed by a few riders.

Still, 10th place, my best placing for the season! Two more races to Category 4, though they won't happen until next March.

Coming in for 7th through 10th:

In the end, it was truly magical there weren't any crashes in this race! Though I know I had some minor sliding going on with the two manhole covers on two laps, and there was the usual occasional rumble of "hold your line!"

Full photo set here.

In other news, I'm getting ready for the quickly-approaching 600k on Friday. Looks like the weather will be great, I'm looking forward to this big ride.

1 comment:

Rob McDaniel said...

Hey Matt! Great racing with you at the crit. Man, what a great race, huh?

A couple of days later I heard something sloshing in my rear wheel -- had to take the tire off and drain the rim. lulz