Sunday, June 17, 2007

2007 AT&T Downtown Austin Crit

I had my Blackberry set to go off at 5am. For those of you who don't know me, I am sort of obsessed with being early for things. My wife makes fun of me for it. I woke up to an alarm, but it wasn't my alarm, it was my wife's alarm going off at 5:45am. FUCK! There is a function on my Blackberry that allows you to disable the alarm on the weekend even though you have it set to go off. I guess I turned that function on at some point. So I got out of bed, buttered up my chamois, and got the kit on. I hit the kitchen and downed a bowl of risotto and a bagel and made up some Cytomax. I went to the garage and opened the door and it was raining pretty hard. PERFECT!! I have waited for months for this race and it is pouring. I packed the car and was off to my race which was at 8:15am. I live about 30 minutes from downtown Austin, so I was still in decent shape. I was about 5 miles from my house when I realized I forgot my wallet which has my racing license in it. So I turned around and flew back home got my wallet and was back on my way. Keep in mind that most people still wouldn't have left if they were me, but I am really starting to worry about time because I am mental about being late.

I got to the registration table at 7:15am. I had preregistered so I just had to pick up my packet. They told me that the 5A race that was at 7:30am was to be combined with my 5B race at 8:15. Perfect! Now I could have a good warm up which I was worried about, because there isn't really any good area for warming up downtown. The rain had quit by about 7:30am, but downtown was absolutely soaked. The corners were very very slippy and I got squirrely a few times even during warm-up. I have to admit that I am not a fan of riding in the wet let alone racing in it. To make matters worse, I was running slick tires. It escaped me to change to my tires with some directional tread due to the fact that it might rain. BRILLIANT!

I ended up on the outside of the front row at the start line. This happened just by chance because as I was coming through to the start line during warm-up, the official jumped out and stopped people at the line. So that was good luck for me. They told me that there were 43 people registered for the combined race, but I didn't think there were that many on the line.

Inner thoughts at the start line.

We were off and hit the first corner. Everyone was fairly cautious through the corner and then accelerated onto the straight which was slightly up hill. The corner at the top of the rise was the one that I was sliding on in warm-up. I was in about 6th place. I hit the corner and slid and went way wide almost clipping a car with hay bails around it. I lost at least 5 places. I came through the next two corners ok and then back through the start line in about 11th or 12th place. I hit the corner after the start and slid again and went off the course outside of the orange cones and had to come back through. I lost another 5 or so places. At this point I am saying to myself, "Dude, you are going to kill yourself. This is just insane!" On the second lap someone went down behind me and on the 4th lap someone else went down behind me. After the first two laps, the field split into 3 groups and some stragglers. I was in the third group which consisted of about 6 riders. We were all just trying to get through the corners without incident and pushing it when possible on the straights. Everyone had a different preferred line on the corners, so when our group would get to the corners we would all split up and go to our "survival line" and then fall back in order on the straight.

College kids seem to have a lot of energy. This dude from A&M was in my group. The race was won by a U of Texas dude. I think the 14 years they have on me makes a difference. HA!

As the race continued, it was obvious to me that I was the strongest in our group on the uphill grade part of the course. However, at the top of the grade was the corner that I was having a hard time with so I could never really use it to my benefit. As we got inside of 5 to go we picked up the pace a bit. At 2 to go I almost went down in the corner before the start line when my rear wheel slid out. I looked like a sprint car going around the corner and really don't know how I stayed up. It was enough to open a small gap with my group. About 1/2 way through 2 to go the lead group was coming up on us so we gave them plenty of room to go through. As they went through the finish and we came through right after them with 1 to go they let loose a pile of streamers that got entangled all over us so we did the last lap with 10 feet of colored streamers trailing behind us. Great thinking on the organizer's part.

A video of my group coming through the start/finish. I am in the blue and white. I didn't feel as in control on the drops in the wet, so I stayed on the hoods all day.

The result of the race was 17th place out of 28. I honestly think I would have done better if it had been dry, but everyone had to deal with the wet conditions, so who knows. It didn't rain anymore on Saturday so the course dried up for the faster races which was cool. I am assuming that the entry number was low because of the rain. They had expected up to 100 Cat. 5 races and had registered 43 as of that morning. I am not sure why only 28 showed at the start. However, there were riders from Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Austin making this a pretty good field. I am also happy to see that our Thursday Night Crit pace is on par with a large regional crit pace. All in all it was a good time and a good experience. I am happy to have done it and to have escaped with all of my flesh still intact.

Posted results.

My biggest fan - The Bug.

They decided to have the P/1/2 women's race with the Cat. 3 men due to low entry numbers. It was an exciting race to watch for sure. The 3 main contenders in the women's race, Jen McRae, Alyson Brandt and Shontell Gauthier battled it out like champs and finished in the top 8 overall in the race. At the line it was Jen McRae with a blazing sprint to take the race. She is phenomenal.

The P/1/2 men's race was fast and furious. With 8 to go there was a 3 man break consisting of Sean Sullivan (Toyota United), Mark Hekman (A&F) and Phil Wikoff (HealthCoach) that had a 14 second gap. The AEG/Toshiba team was chasing like there was no tomorrow to give their sprinter Franco Travieso a shot at the sprint. They pulled it off in text book fashion catching the break on the bell lap. Franco did not disappoint his team and took the win with one of the most convincing sprints I have ever seen. He just threw it down and nobody had an answer for his speed. Fantastic racing.

Henk Vogels of Toyota United being called up.


Anonymous sully said...

Nice job dude. Damn sounds like a day in the saddle of pucker factor 10.

Nice race report too. It looks like they lined you up with all the guys running Campy. Hope you're out riding today.

If you need help with that weekend function on the BB, give me a call and I'll walk you through it.

Adios from the 54016

6/17/07, 8:41 AM  
Blogger velogirl said...

no video of the streamers?

you know to run a lower psi on wet conditions, right?

and you should definitely ride in your drops on the wet -- it's much more stable, Chris, and will place more weight on the front of the bike (which would likely prevent the slip-sliding you experienced today).

good job! did the bug love seeing daddy race?

6/17/07, 11:40 PM  
Blogger oldmanandhisbike said...

I give you a lot of credit man for running in the rain; maybe on the trails but never on the asphalt.
Your tire situation reminded me of the Iceman a couple years back where we had 4 inches of snow on the ground and I ran semi-slicks pumped up to 40+ p.s.i.! DOOH!
Anyway, great racing and nice report. Sounded like a good day.

6/18/07, 5:07 AM  
Blogger Mallie said...

Wet asphalt scares the heebie-jeebies out of me. Way to show your skillz by recovering from every slide. I need to build those recovery skills on the skinny tires...though I'm hoping having them on the knobbies might translate one day!

Way to stick it out. Bet the Bug was really proud of daddy!

6/18/07, 7:02 AM  
Blogger Alicia said...

Velogirl knows her stuff - listen to her!

And - just showing up in those conditions - nice job all around...

6/18/07, 9:06 AM  
Blogger Pete Basso said...

Chris, nice job man. Racing in the rain is never fun unless your in the dirt. Sounds like you won the battle in your mind and overcame the fear...that's a large part of the battle. As velogirl suggested always let some air out of your tires. I usually run around 105 psi in the rain. Keep up the great work!!

6/18/07, 10:16 AM  
Blogger sydney_b said...

nice work, Chris! Personally, if it's raining and I keep the tire side down the whole time, I chalk it down as a success and you should definitely do so. Sounds like you're making progress and I look forward to reading about a dry weather crit. Thx for reporting on the ladies. This is always of interest to me. :)

6/18/07, 10:40 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

Sully (aka David Summers)- it was a high pucker factor. Some of those dudes held a worse line than you do.

Velogirl - I do know to run lower pressure but only lowered it to about 115. I will give the drops a go next time on the wet, but it was the back end that I was having issues with. Bug loves anything related to biking it seems with or without daddy. :)

Oldman - slicks in the snow sounds much worse. I won't ask the outcome of that decision. HA!

Mallie - when are you doing that crit?? You seem to have a knack for the road bike.

Alicia - thanks. How is the rockies trip coming?

Pete - I would have loved to see a picture of my face going around the corners. I bet it was comical.

Syd - the girl's race kicked ass. And the three real contenders were the ones that you duked it out with a few weeks ago. It was great racing for sure.

6/18/07, 5:25 PM  
Blogger velogirl said...

chris, you lowered your PSI to 115? what do you typically run? how much do you weigh? I've found many cyclists over-inflate their tires, so maybe that group includes you? if your rear end is sliding, you definitely need to be in the drops and counter-steer to get your weight distribution correct. riding on the tops moves your weight up and makes you less stable. I know you just got a pro fit, but this could also be a bike fit issue -- not enough weight on the back of the bike.

and as others have said, congratulations and good job. this was a big race in adverse conditions and you should be very proud.

6/18/07, 6:17 PM  
Blogger lauren said...

cool report. rain is so hard to race in.

you're on your way!

and yeah, a video of the streamers would be pretty cool.

6/18/07, 6:52 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Velogirl - I weigh 185. It depends on which wheels I use. With the Ksyriums I race at 135psi or so. With the American Classics, the pressure limit is 120psi. I really do think the slick tires were a big part of the problem. I should have put on my other tires that have a bit of side crown tread.

6/18/07, 6:57 PM  
Blogger oldmanandhisbike said...

Chris: It wasn't pretty. I crashed within the first mile and went down a total of 6 times during the race. Fork lock-out broke during one fall and I rode the last half with no suspension. Lower pressure would have helped, but some tread would have been nice too! Glad you didn't pull a Levi Liepheimer (Dauphine')! :^)

6/19/07, 5:19 AM  
Blogger bryan said...

that crit sounds even scarier than the one I did in the rain. glad you survived.

6/19/07, 6:20 AM  
Blogger bbElf (a.k.a. panda) said...

What VG asked! I wanted a streamer photo, too.

Try to convince yourself that you love riding in the rain, even if you don't. If you're worried you tense up & that causes more problems than anything else (in my always-humble opinion :)).

6/19/07, 12:07 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Oldman - I wonder how Levi feels after that curb enima that he received. That just looked painful.

Panda - lucky for me it doesn't rain much in Texas :)

6/19/07, 2:52 PM  
Blogger Sweet Cheeks said...

I laughed out loud when I read about the streamers. good job - you're my hero!

6/20/07, 10:31 PM  
Blogger chatterbox said...

Good racing. I loved the colorful report (especially the streamer bit)! BTW, I took Velogirl's advice about the tires when our team raced a VERY rainy crit in February. I put mine down to 90psi. Even with the super-slicks, I felt really stable. Oh, and I definitely stuck to the drops. The only sketchy moment I had was getting my tire caught in a small rut, which would have been sketchy even in dry.

6/21/07, 8:13 AM  
Blogger Eclectchick said...

Great job. Love the report, ya lean, mean racin' machine!

6/21/07, 10:28 AM  

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