Jul 21, 2009

Naugatuck Criterium and my own personal tour of Fairfield County

Well, its been 5 days since my eventful ride through CT and I have yet to report. I've been in a really lazy mood this week. I haven't touched my bike or thought about riding much at all. I'm supposed to race tomorrow morning, so it should be interesting.

Anyway, the day started at 9 am when I caught the ferry to Connecticut. The plan was to ride up to the Naugatuck Criterium, do the race and ride home. It was a beautiful summer day so I was looking forward to ride. I had my route mapped out to snake up towards Naugatuck along the rivers in CT, but I brought along the GPS just in case. Sure enough, I got a little lost pretty quickly. It wasn't far out of the way, but my detour took me over an extra hill and an extra half hour. On the map, my route looked pretty straightfoward, but I wasn't expecting the hills in Connecticut. Image my surprise when I came to the last leg of my trip to Naugatuck and saw this.

When I finally got to the race, I was out of breath, water and time. Luckily they had to delay the start, so I got a half hour to sit in the shade and eat and drink a little before the race. The course was pretty straightforward; a long skinny triangle with two fast square corners, a couple little rollers, a slow final turn and a long straight to the finish. John Sebat showed up at the last minute and raced the 4/5 race with me. I was still a little tired after the ride to the race, so I decided to sit in. The pace wasn't to bad, so I could surf wheels through the pack pretty easily. A two man break got away for a few laps and looked pretty strong, but after a prime they came back pretty quick. The first two corners were fast and I could take them flat out. People were rather hesitant for some reason, so cornering was a good way to gap the field. I'd dangle off the front a little bit, but I wasn't really looking for a breakaway.

With 10 to go, I felt the twinges of a cramp. I was eating and drinking as much as I could, but in the hot sun it was hard to shake off the cramps. They never got terrible, but I was very mindful of what my legs could and could not do. The last five laps were pretty mellow, everybody was waiting until the last lap to try to attack. Sure enough, on the back stretch people started attacking. It was a series of counterattacks from there. The last counterattack came on the final slope right before the finishing straight. I couldn't follow his move and got gapped before the final sprint. Because of the cramps, I had to sprint sitting down and spinning out my little ring, but I almost closed on him before the finish. Second place was still pretty good.

Since George wasn't able to make his prereg'd 4/5 race, they let me race the 3/4s for free. I knew I wasn't going to have the legs to do well, so I spent most of the race using the tailgunning* technique Mike Bantle taught me back in MN. So I waited and waited at the back. Finally with 4 to go, I started moving up. At one point I found myself pulling on the front, but that didn't last long. I was well positioned for the final lap, but I couldn't hold the pace in the final 1k and finished 24th, which I was fine with.

I stuck around and watched a bit of the 1/2 race before my ride back to the ferry.

Those guys go fast! Actually, there was a girl in the race too, which impressed me.

There was a ride home was pretty easy, outside of Andrew Mt Rd, which hurt. A lot.

I saw Sikorsky's main facility on the way home. I think i'd like to work for them some day.

Then I got on the ferry just before sunset. It was a nice day with almost 120 miles, over 50 racing and only an 18 mph average. (like I said, hilly!)

*Tailgunning- When you aren't concerned about a split in the field, a crash or making any breakaways, it is actually easier to sit 3-4 bike lengths off the back in a criterium. You can avoid surges in the pack, don't need to fight for position and can take any line in the corners while still getting a pretty good draft. Of course, you're still at the back of the race.

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