Joy Memorial Criterium

I came so close to just skipping this race due to the weather forecast predicting ‘heavy rain’ for the day of the race, Memorial Day. It came down to the point where I would not have enough time to drive to the start if I didn’t go at that moment.

I pulled into the race with just enough time for a warm up. They allowed us to ride on the course during warm up so I did two laps. The course was pretty uneventful except for a small kicker hill after turn three that was followed by a two-block stretch straight into the wind. I knew immediately that this was going to be an important section of the course.

So much water

It could not have been raining harder but 10 of us idiots lined up at the start. This was a Cat 4/5 race and I got the imprecation that six were CAT 4’s by the way that they all knew each other. This would became more evident during the race.

The start was blistering fast. The Cat 4’s all went into a full-on sprint. Of the four Cat 5 riders, two of us reacted and caught up. Unfortunately, the other two were done before they hit the first turn. In our group of eight, I was the caboose and the other Cat 5 was in front of me. We all held together for the first five laps but I noticed that the Cat 5 in front of me began leaving gaps and was struggling to close them.

In lap five, we rounded turn 3 and the guy in front slowed down a lot on the kicker hill causing the other riders to all spread out to pass him. As they did, they all took of in a full sprint. The rider in front of me had no chance of keeping up so I passed him and tried to catch them solo. I was road as hard as I could possibly go but the Cat 4’s were still in a group and pulling away. Just as I predicted, turn 3 changed the race.

The Cat 4’s sticking together

As far as I knew, I was now riding solo as the front Cat 5 rider. I just kept going hard thinking that, if someone falls off the pack, I might be able to catch them. After four laps, I rounded a corner and glanced back. I could not believe my eyes. The other Cat 5 was on my wheel. I pulled for several more laps until I began to slow down and he took over. We rode together for the rest of the race.

Eventually, we lapped the other two Cat 5’s and also got lapped by the Cat 4’s in the final lap. Neither the other Cat 5 or I sprinted at the finish. After the race, we talked and he thanked me twice for pulling for so long and I thanked him for taking over.

I finished 8th out of 10 but still thought that I had a pretty decent race. The big thing that I need to work on is my decisions and the timing of them. Had I not sat in the back of the group, I no that I could have stuck with them. I need to have a more aggressive attitude and not just sit in the rear reacting to everything.

Oh well. It was a cool experience and I am super glad that I did not skip it. Besides, racing in the pouring rain should make for a good story someday.

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