Same Streets

Same streets, different bike, different day.   I’m rolling up 13th between E and F at eight am handling parcel delivery in my role as a DC bike messenger.  Less than 24 hours ago, as a member of the Cycle Life composite squad, I was hitting the same section hard.  A small rise in the quick twisty race course.  A part of the USA  Crit Series.

It’s quiet now.  No crowds and no evidence of the impressively done event.  Just folks getting back into Monday work mode and me wondering if I could have pushed it just a little more yesterday.

The bike I’m on is a dated Cannondale Cad 6.   Retired racer relegated (and reborn) to courier rig.  An old war horse and what I was on the last time I saw regular NRC action circa 2001 era.  Now, that is rare to never.

This rise in the course was where it was possible to move up, especially near the end as heat took a toll and the attrition level kicked in.  I made some progress, recaptured forgotten sensations and was able to reach the front of the field in the closing laps but in the end I didn’t move up enough and fell one out of the money in 26th.

It was interesting seeing the streets I have been riding since ’91 carved into a bona fide big league race course.  Some folks had suggested prior that I would have an advantage knowing these lanes so well, which I went along with, even though I knew that would have absolutely no impact.

Once the route is set, beyond the local cheering section, which is huge, it could be a crit course in any city.

Angles and efforts.   Sixty laps.  Seven turns.  Figuring it all out and getting in the rollercoaster rhythm.   That is the feeling that returned.  Following wheel.  Strung out.  Gauging out put and running the red line.

The first time I noticed laps there were 59 to go.  It is hard from the start and I knew that I would have to get over the hump and hope to adjust back to NRC speed or risk getting blown out.  I tried not to look until it was lower forties.  Just rolling.  With forty I set twenty as a goal.  To at least not be embarrassed.

With 20 I felt maybe better but at least not any worse.  I can count down twenty.  20 more sessions.   140 more corners.   The mental drills are kind of funny and I’m guessing pretty varied across the varied board of racer types.

With the heat and the speed it is hard to know when and if you will get popped.  Things that seem fine can change quickly.  Operating at the limit and slightly out of practice means the engine might be touchy.

Luckily I felt more solid toward the end than the beginning so it was a decent day. Adrenalin and exhaustion mixed oddly and comfortably by the close.

The production Mark Sommers and the DC Sports Authority put on was large.   The crowds, which were mostly made of up of fellow racers and family, were good but it would be nice if more sports fans in general came to a FREE event with world class athletes on display.  Maybe the races need to have steep ticket prices and ‘fans’ will start showing up!

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