Race footage from the 2012 Presbyterian Hospital Invitational Criterium in Charlotte, NC.
I'm currently lacking the experience and aggressiveness to compete and place well in these NCC and USACrits races (this is my 4th in three years). Doing some sighting laps before the women's race I had felt confident about the course and my abilities and I was able to pedal through all the corners at a decent speed. My handling and cornering abilities had also been reinforced by my first race of the season the previous week in a technical crit. However, as you can see in the opening lap of the race, I could not hold my position to save my life through the turns. I completely blew my good starting spot (I had lined up 30 minutes early) and when the race started, I lost at least 10 spots on the starting straight, 12 through the first section of corners, and then 14 on the back straight. Just in between turns five and six I lost 12 spots! By the end of the first lap, I was somewhere in the back third of the field - not a good place to be in a race like this. As you might be able to hear, I was coasting through many of the turns and letting gaps open, especially in the first two turns off of the straightaway. Luckily, I was catching up between the last two turns, but often times I would lose some spots to people pedaling more confidently through these sections. Later in the race when things became more single file I squandered bountiful opportunities to advance my position going through the turns and short straightaways at the ends of the course where it was often feasible to go through 2 or three wide, even at speed. I needed to be doing this constantly to advance my position and avoid the danger zone at the back of the race.
One thing that I think worked well for me was staying seated almost the entire race and concentrating on spinning out of the corners. For the most part I was able to match the accelerations of guys jumping out of the corners standing but I was able to remain aero and save my legs somewhat.
Eventually, the back of the field shattered, leaving me and my teammate hanging out to dry. We gave chase valiantly for a few laps, but couldn't make up ground (understandably) on the United Health Care train that had finally assembled at the front of the field to start to reel in the breakaway. My race footage cut out a few laps before we were pulled by the officials for being out of contention. I ended up outlasting over half of the field (134 starters) but as the goal was to finish the race and finish in the money (30 deep), it was bit of a let down, especially as fitness is plenty deep enough to carry me to that goal. All I need now is the race skills and confidence...
Overall, I wouldn't say it was any harder than Iron Hill or Wilmington (the two other big crits that I've done) which is part of the reason why I'm disappointed. Unfortunately, doing local 1/2/3 races can't really prepare you for these type of national caliber events so I'll have to use these races as learning experiences and hopefully learn from them quickly as well as on the fly - it's a bit of a let down to spend 3 days driving to and from a race just to get pulled.
Our team's next big race will be Tour of Somerville and the Wilmington GP, both in May.
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