Here is my Race Report from the 2012 Crossroads Cycling Classic. The Crossroads Classic is 5 days of racing – 4 Criteriums and 1 Road Race.
The first race was the Cabarrus Creamery Criterium in Concord, NC. The race is on a short 4-corner course and is very fast. The key to this race is to get a good start and try to stay near the front. I managed to do this even though I missed my pedal. I had to wait until I was through turn 1 to get my foot clipped in. After that, things went pretty smoothly. The race was 45 minutes long and I managed to stay near the front for most of the race.
This year I was able to do two races the weekend before, the High Point Classic Criterium on Friday night and the Hanes Park Criterium on Sunday. Usually I hit Crossroads ‘cold’. With the previous weekends racing, I had good legs for the Concord Crit. I was able to move around the group pretty easily so long as the guys in front of me weren’t checking up.
I stuck my nose in the wind a couple times, went for a Pipes Points Sprint, covered several breaks and was having a good time. Unfortunately, when we got to 5 laps to go, I kept getting stuck in the middle of the group and couldn’t move up. With the course being so short, I couldn’t move up and the speed was real fast. With two to go, I knew I wouldn’t move up so I sat in the group and watched for trouble. The last two laps were pretty sketchy sitting on the back and I saw several near misses (crashes).
I ended up 19th in the Criterium. A better result would have been nice, but I felt great and was never in that ‘I’m going to die’ state from suffering.
Race number 2 was the Sun and Ski Sports Salisbury Criterium in downtown Salisbury. The downtown Salisbury course is a lot of fun with long straights and turns. There a total of 8 turns and if you on the front, you don’t have to hit your breaks. After feeling so good in the Concord criterium, I was hoping for a good race at Salisbury.
I managed to get a good start and my plan was to sit in the group for the first half of the race and then try to have some fun on the front. About 18 minutes into the race, a guy from Atomic Cycles attacked on the home straight and from the previous races, I knew he was real strong. I jumped from the pack along with another rider and was able to bridge the gap near the back half of the course. We managed to get a significant gap on the field and put our heads down.
I was surprised on the next lap when Carlos Pinate bridged that gap. Now we had 4 guys in the break and we started to work together fairly well. One thing I realized was how hard it was in the break. It looks a lot easier on TV than it is in real life. A couple laps later we were joined by another Atomic Cycles rider and another rider. With 6 riders, the group wasn’t going to catch us.
We worked together and on the last lap, I exited the last turn in 6th place and managed to move up to 4th place at the finish. I was totally jazzed with this result. The Cat 3 group is super competive, so establishing a break in our races is really difficult and I’ve been working hard to get into a break for awhile and it finally happened.
Race number 3 was the Downtown Statesville Criterium on Friday night. This is my favorite course and I’ve always had a good race here. I won the Category 4 race several years ago an always have hopes of winning Statesville as a Cat 3. After two great nights of racing and feeling really strong, I was super excited for Statesville.
The race started fast as usual and I was near the front after 3 or 4 laps and having no trouble staying there. I was kind of excited about how I felt. And then going into turn 6, things changed. Turn 6 is on the back side of the course and is probably the sketchiest corner on the course. It’s crazy fast, narrow and kind of bumpy. Most of the crashes at Statesville occur here. Watch this Video to see a crash in Turn 6 to get an idea of what I’m talking about.
If you aren’t a strong bike handler, it’s easy to overcook the corner and swing too wide causing lots of trouble. Well, that’s what happened to me. A guy in front of me ended up cutting me off causing me to lock up my rear wheel. My rear wheel went sideways and I was able to save it. I thought, ‘Whoa, that was close’ and took 3 pedal strokes when ‘BAM’, my rear tire blew out.
I didn’t panic, knew I just had to get to the wheel pit and put a spare wheel on. I managed to get the wheel changed and work my way back to the front of the group. I was feeling good and with 6 laps to go started trying to work my way to the top 10 in the group. Coming out of turn 3 I started moving up when a guy to my left moved into my line and stuck his rear derailleur into my front wheel. Talk about scary, I heard my spokes pinging off his derailleur and thought for sure I was going down. Somehow I managed to stay upright but immediately noticed that my wheel was out of true. I made it back to the pit, but because we were under 8 laps to go, I wasn’t able to continue the race.
I was really bummed but was riding good and I didn’t go down so that’s a positive. Crazy thing is that even though I didn’t complete the last 5 laps, I still finished 28th! But it killed my chances in the Omnium. I went from 6th overall to somewhere in the 20s.
Race number 4 was the High Rock Road Race in Salisbury, NC. Our race was 4 laps and a total of 54 miles. About the hardest part of today was getting to the race. The race started at 8:30AM which was super early considering the Statesville Crit started at 8:10PM the night before!
Our race started out kind of fast but my plan was to sit in the group for the first 2 laps and then see what happened. Several guys tried to get off the front, but the peloton kept them in check. I never struggled with the accelerations and was kind of along for the ride.
On the 4th lap, the group really set up and took it easy. This was disappointing because it made it almost impossible to move up in the group because of the yellow line rule. Since we race on open roads, we are not allowed – or supposed to – cross the yellow line in the road for obvious safety reasons.
I tried to move up but it wasn’t going to happen. I was hoping it would speed up on the finish, no such luck. So I ended up 33 in the quasi sprint. It was kind of sketchy as I had to hit the breaks 3 times dodging people touching bars or slowing down. To give you an idea of how easy it was, I averaged 25.6mph but my average Heart Rate was 133!
Race number 5 was the City Park Circuit Race in Salisbury, NC. To be honest, I wasn’t really into this race after not having good results at Statesville and the Road Race. But I was feeling really fit and wanted to finish the Crossroads. Plus I haven’t done well on this course. It has a two step climb at the finish and it really puts the hurt on me.
My plan was to get there an hour early to warm up. I had my friend Mike’s spare wheels and wanted to get them to the wheel pit for his race. We watched Mike’s race start and he didn’t come around on the 2nd lap. We figured he had a flat or small crash. But when he didn’t roll in with the other guys that crashed, we started walking down the course with his brother and couple teammates. When Brian Conroy rode up the hill with Mike’s bike on his shoulder, we knew something was wrong.
Mike went down in turn 3 and had a real bad cut on his chin and was pretty scuffed up. By the time we got to him, the paramedics had him on a back board with a neck brace. It wasn’t fun to see him in that position. The good news is that he is OK and already back on the bike. But it was a little nerve racking to see my friend down. We worked out a solution, Tracy would take Mikey (Mike’s son) home, Billy (Mike’s Brother) would go to the hospital with Mike, and I would take Mike’s car home after my race.
So, no warm up at all. I went into the race cold. But I just wanted to get through the race, maybe try to get off the front and stay safe. The race started fairly fast and I stayed in the top 3rd of the race. I didn’t feel that bad on the finishing hill, but definitely didn’t feel good enough to attack. A break of two went away about halfway through the race.
With 5 laps to go, I decided that I would go to the front to try to bring the break back. When we hit the finish climb, I went to the front and led over the climb. I tried to keep my effort a little under control and led for the whole lap. I led the group over the climb again and had one rider help me on the backstretch. With two to go, I couldn’t maintain my pace over the hill and ended up falling to the back of the group. On the last lap, I made it over the climb with the group but was cooked. I rolled in with Jim Mead with a smile on my face.
Overall, the 2012 Crossroads Cycling Classic was great experience. I raced as strong as I ever have thanks to Sarah at Cool Breeze Coaching. I haven’t won a Cat 3 race yet and it’s still one of my cycling goals. I was hoping to do so this year. But with the mechanicals at Statesville, I kind of lost my mojo. But I didn’t crash and rode strong all week so I’ll call it a success.
Until next year!