On a whim this year I decided to race in the OBRA Crit Championships. I'm not sure why I decided to race this year because I haven't raced in a crit in over a year...but I just felt like racing it this year.
So off to Albany I went to compete in the Masters 40-49 category.
The course was a nice 6 corner crit with good wide turns and nice road conditions. This allowed good speeds through the turns and a better overall flow during the race.
Going into this race I had no idea what my race shape was since I haven't been doing any VO2 max intervals and all of my riding has been basic hill climbing and some occasional efforts during group rides. Give crits are all about constant accelerations...I just didn't know how I would fare.
Once the race started, I moved to the front with the basic plan of getting into break aways, starting break aways or chasing breaks down that got away.
It didn't take very long before riders started shooting off the front of the pack. Staying up front I jumped in every break I could until I started to feel it and needed a little break.
About 15 minutes into the race I found myself out front by myself with a good 30 meter or so gap on the field. I kept pushing it hard, but couldn't make any ground on the field and they slowly brought me back in.
For the next 5 minutes or so I stayed in the pack and waited for other chances to get into a break. With about 10 laps to go we had a small group of 4 that if we worked together could have had a chance of staying away. At one point we had 30 meters or so on the field, but nobody in the group wanted to rotate or pull through, which led to being pulled back into the field pretty quickly.
From this point I decided to stay in the pack and see if I could place well in the field sprint and just tried to maintain field position.
I moved around a little but stayed near the front, somewhere around the top 10-15 riders trying to hold position.
With a few laps to go things started to pick up. One rider caught a pedal in a turn and almost went down (and would have taken the eventual 3rd place finisher with him). A few laps later (with one or two to go) it started getting really dicey and some bumping started taking place. I was on the inside and got bumped a little but was able to accelerate out of it. Unfortunately at this time a small gap was forming that separated me from the front 10-12 racers and it was a gap we never made up.
Coming around the final corner the leaders had taken off full sprint while I was still 20 meters or so back, so my race was essentially over, with no real sprint finish. I think I finished somewhere between 12th and 15th.
In the end I felt like I had a good race, but lack of doing any crits or similar races hurt when it came to the final lap. I knew better than to let the gap develop, but not being in that situation for over a year it didn't dawn on me at the time. I felt pretty strong overall and gave a lot of effort going for break away attempts...and had I been there for the final sprint feel I could have placed well, how well I'll never know.
I can't really complain though considering I was worried about getting pulled/dropped from the main field...so all is good.
This was my last road race of the season, so now it's time to wind down the miles a little and start building a base up again for next race season which is approximately 6 months away. One area I need to improve on is dropping weight again...a constant battle for me. I'm currently sitting around 200 pounds or so and last winter jumped up to 220, working my way down to 187 by the "Meat" of my racing schedule. I'd like to come into the season around 190 pounds next year so I'm competitive in the early season races....so I have a lot of work to do when it comes to monitoring my weight and building my base.
Overall...a good year, but I know I have some areas to improve on. I may even do a few extra crits next year for good measure so I can get another shot at the OBRA Crit Championships :)