Stage 4 – The Burlington Criterium
Remember that episode of “The Simpsons”, when Lisa introduces Mr. Burns to recycling? Anyway, he doesn’t know that word, and they have a little literal shot of him going through his internal dictionary, sounding out the word, but not finding it. That was me last weekend, man. “Cry-Tear-Eee-Um?” I hadn’t raced a crit since – you guessed it – last year’s Burlington crit, which didn’t go so hot. Seriously, this was where my months of not racing really caught up with me.
First problem was my relocating to Burlington the night before the event, and ordering a large Buffalo chicken pizza, because MAN, I was hungry. The logic behind the change in scenery was due to a number of things, but primarily, the short distance to the start. Except that my start was at 3pm, making that pointless. I hate afternoon starts, and I ended up sleeping for like 12 hours (too much) and until noon (too late) and then I ate a huge “rise and shiner” egg/sausagecheese breakfast samdwhich. Now, the 7-11 U-Reheat-It egg/sausage/cheese crescant was like my bread and butter race breakfast last year, but they worked a lot better at 6 am, with hours of driving before the race. Also, I didn’t drink very much, and had like 5 vitamin waters the night before (which really just dry you out – evil sugar). And I left most of my gear at Rossman’s so I was racing in a club-cut jersey. Oh, and I had no trainer, and no base of operation close on the course, so didn’t really get a good warm up. Or any warm up. And my number was upside down.
And (yeah, you thought the new paragraph would be the end of that litany) I made the mistake of listening to Alan Atwood when he told us not to push or surge in our ride to the line after call-ups. And even after the surge to the line that I didn’t do, I wasn’t especially aggressive in shoving my way into non-existent spaces in the crowd of assembled racers (A great way to move up). But what followed wasn’t quite entirely my fault (is anyting ever entirely my fault?), as race organizers claimed the start would be “neutral for the first two corners”. Now, I think this is a moronic idea, and they should just line everyone up further down the finishing stretch on Main street and have it active from the gun (you know, like a real crit?) and apparently, someone agreed with me, because while the back line was standing around cliping in, everyone took off.
I managed to at least catch wheels, but not after like banging into 5 guys at once who were similarly confused. According to Rudy, who got a call up, everyone on the front line who hadn’t been called up just took off, so everyone took off, then got bungled up when the nearly hit the car, which in turn took off because it was worried about geting hit by riders. Long story short, an evil double accordion shelled probably 20 guys in the first 6 laps. I fought decently hard but was entirely flustered by the bad start, and couldn’t get my riding together. I was not pedalling through the turns that needed to be pedalled through, on the brakes too much and generally making a retard of myself. I did not deserve to stay on.
I’ve never been pulled from a crit without crashing before. Occasionally, I’ll fall off but I can usually hang out solo at the back without getting caught. Not so here. I didn’t get whistled or honked, so maybe that was my signal to keep riding? I dunno. After the pace car passed me with like 18 laps to go, I just swung off onto the sidewalk. I was barely sweaty and still pissed off about the start. As I sit here writing this, I probably should have just stayed in and tried to reintegrate. Worst case scenario, they score me at one lap, best case, they forget I dropped off and I get a pack finish. Next time, I’ll do that.
The crit itself looked like an awesome race to be at the front of. Some dude made a good solo like 5 laps in, to be caught later by a group a 3 or 4 others. ECV’s Colin Murphy managed to win it all by taking the sprint from this lead group. Sucks for the BRC guy who won the prologue and road stage, but he worked up some bad karma by riding the first stage with an illegal (no shell) helmet. Rudy was on the front mixing it up, but I think he missed the split. I’m thinking he was probably top 10 overall, with Pech somewhere in the top 20. I didn’t even get placed, or officially DNF’d and just sort of dissappeared from the results, furthering my suspicions that had I just cheated, everything would have come out ok. So I guess the morals of the story are a) don’t alter your stage race routine mid-stage race b) race frequently during the season and c) ignore the instructions (“don’t surge to the line”, “neutral start”, “if you get pulled, we will place you with a -35 point GC penalty”) of the the officials.