On Sunday morning after Twilight, we departed the Hotel Indigo in Athens en route to Roswell, GA, for the Roswell Criterium. After an hour fifteen in the caravan with the rest of Mavic‘s volunteer mechanic crew, we made it to the race course. It was easy to find. The traditional race course is only half an hour from my house and I had raced the criterium for the past 5 years. You could say I was kind of familiar with the area…
We set up the pit area alongside Roswell Bicycles and I visited with my boss, Kevin, and one of my co-workers, Doug, who had set up the Out Spokin’ Sprinter Van and tent for the tailgate party. They had the gas grill out and were already into “party mode” after their morning ride around Roswell/Alpharetta.
At the persuasion of most of my Mavic buddies, I signed up for the Cat 4/5 race. I wasn’t going to do it unless I had enough cash in my pocket to sign up. Race day entry was $50 (which is ridiculous, in my opinion), and I had $53… so I was in. I worked a few races, then warmed up for my 1:55pm start.
If you’ve never raced Roswell, then you don’t know about the “race to the start.” Staging area for this race is beyond the 250m mark behind the finish line. Once the gate opens, you have to get clipped in and make a mad dash to the start to get the best position possible. It’s pretty crazy, but necessary to get in the first two rows, or you’ll have crappy starting position, and in most cases, a crappy race. Myself and my two teammates, Lonnie “The Legend” and Baxter, had a great “race to the start” and were all positioned in the second and third row.
My plan for the race was to conserve as much energy as possible, then see where I was at for the finish. There is never usually a breakaway in the 4/5 race… that’s just how it is. If there was a move, I wanted to be near the front to cover it and go with it, if need be. I also wanted to keep an eye on my computer. In a 40 minute criterium, the first 10 minutes is crucial. If you can make it through the first 10 minutes, you can settle and hang. If you’re in distress before that point, you should probably pack it up and call it a day.
I had a really good race. I avoided crashes, stayed near the front, and didn’t take ANY pulls. I downshifted before turns so I could pedal through without getting out of the saddle and expending any extra energy. I had no idea where my teammates were. I didn’t see them for quite some time. I think we lapped Lonnie at one point. He got stuck behind some crashes and got separated from the main field. I was consistently in the top ten throughout the race, so I figured a good sprint finish was in the cards.
I had good position for the field sprint, so I went for it. I probably took off a little too early. Roswell’s finishing straight is deceptively long, and I was running a 12t small cog. If I had an 11t (my own stupid fault), I may have had enough gear to finish in the money. I still managed ninth place. Top ten is nothing to complain about.
After the race, it was back to work with Mavic. We worked through the rest of the day’s racing, then packed up and headed to the house. Lots of little sidebar stories throughout the weekend. Ran into a lot of old friends and racers I have wrenched for in the past. Made some new acquaintances, too. All in all a good weekend of racing and fun.