Monday, June 3, 2013

Race Report: Coal Miners Classic by Kirk Groves (@LSVLKirk)

One of my goals for 2013 was to return to criterium racing after a long hiatus. Phase 1 was the Ideal Market Thursday Crit a couple weeks ago. Today was Phase 2, the Coal Miner Classic in Louisville. I threw my deep dish carbon wheels on and rode the 3 miles from my house to the race. Unfortunately I forgot to swap out my brake pads at the same time. By the time I got to the venue my brakes sounded like a tortured piglet. I registered and had time to get home and swap out the pads. I rolled up to the start line with a couple minutes to spare.

It was a small field for the 35+ 4s, just under 30 of us rolled off the start line. For the first two laps the pace was moderate if not slow. We were racing for 45 minutes and the referee advised us we were looking at 6 or 7 laps. There was a prime the 3rd lap but I didn't want to burn a match for $10. The field was pretty strung out after the prime but quickly regrouped. The pace felt a bit faster in the 2nd half of the race but I was comfortable throughout. I thought I'd done a good job of hiding all race and hadn't really stuck my nose in the wind once. A couple guys tried to take a flyer but every move was quickly covered.

We received the 1-to-go bell and I was prepared for the speed to jump... but it didn't. The first 90 degree corner after the start/finish line a guy started out wide but came in across my line. We bumped bars and there was a moment of high drama -- fortunately we both stayed upright. The unfortunate side effect of the 'argy bargy' was that I lost my nerve. Instead of working my way to the front I was in the back keeping a safe distance from all other riders. I'm far from an expert crit rider but I'm thinking that's a bad strategy -- DUH! By the time we were three corners from the finish I was too far back to be a factor. I'm still kicking myself -- after 42 minutes and 6 3/4 laps I was out of position the only time it mattered. I picked off a couple guys in the finishing straight for maybe 20th. I had plenty of gas in the tank but the race was over.  Frustrating...

Swooping around corners in a group is fun but the most fun I've had this year has been on the dirt. I'm looking at the road calendar and I'm not seeing much that excites me. I'll likely do some subset of No. Boulder Park, Sonic Boom, Niwot, Firestone Classic and Longmont but my interest in the road in waning. I know better than signing up for any of the hill climbs coming up -- not my cup of tea.

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