Race Report :: September 2, 2002 :: Giro di San Francisco Criterium

Date: September 2, 2002
Event: Giro di San Francisco Criterium
Category: Senior 3
Laps: 30
Place: 6th
Field: 100 (full field!)

Ciao! Welcome to my back yard. The Giro di SF is a stones throw from where I live so I always look forward to this race. Where else can you warm-up in your own house and then roll on over to the starting line? :’)

Of course, being so close, I managed to roll up late, just as everyone started to line up. Dang late start time throws me off! But no matter. I dumped off my spare wheels and jumped into the pack of riders collecting at the starting line. And collect they did, until the 100 field max was packed in and ready for the whistle.

A minute later we were off. All 100 of us sprinting for a narrow corner, wide enough for 8 riders riding clean. Sadly, the field got dirty during the race.

On the same corner a rider went down, taking a bunch of others with him. A moment later, on the uphill, another crash sparked by the first. I was riding the inside and luckily avoided the mayhem.

Riding the inside this race was one of my mantras. A couple of times I ended up forced to ride the middle or outside. Each of those corners I mentally kept repeating “don’t fall don’t fall” to anyone riding to my inside.

About midway through the race a rider went of the front. It was this UCLA guy that had done the same at the Oakland crit and stayed away the whole time. Jamiel, from Hancock, was keeping an eye on this guy and jumped hard to break across to him. I missed this whole bit of action since I was somewhere buried in the middle at the time. Duh!

These two maintained a 15 second gap the rest of the race. Nobody would work to chase them down. A few efforts were made but it was obviously each man out for himself. So, the pack resigned itself to racing for 3rd or higher.

When the 5 lap card came up, the pace picked up for a moment and then dwindled. On the back stretch the field just slowed to a crawl. Nobody wanted to be in front. Ok, I even didn’t want to be in front. But I found myself coasting faster than the pack was lolly gagging down that stretch. I just let myself roll to the front stayed out front without even pedaling!

But then the two lap card was up and now people wanted to work. I kept up my pace and stayed at the front. I knew the last lap was going to be madness and I had better be at the front for that first corner.

As we headed up towards the start/finish for the final lap the pack frenzy was now building. The lead riders trying to hold position but also trying not to blow up. The pack swarming behind. I was floating back around 10th and as we closed in on the last corner I moved up hard and to the front. I had a perfect inside line and blasted into the corner and…

CRASH!!!

A blur to my left and then that horrible bike on pavement sound. Someone had gone down hard. And from the sound was taking others with him. I didn’t look back. Never look back.

The few of us in front of the mess cruised up the hill and on to the back side. The pace quickened but it was all jockeying for position. Nobody wanted to break away just yet. I was sitting 3rd wheel and getting ready to jump. I wanted to go before the 3rd corner. But I hesitated and suddenly there was a jump to my right. Crap! I jumped out and around and after. I was now behind 6 or so riders.
We flew around the 3rd corner, up the short straight, and through the final corner. As we came out of the turn I was up and out of the saddle and gunning it, right into…

A blockade! Two riders just ahead to my right and two to my left all happened to move together at the same time. I had to brake. Brake! To avoid hitting them. I slowed enough to slide back and around to the right and then hit the acceleration.

I ramped it up, heart already peaking, legs trying to regain the RPMs lost. It was a drag race to the finish. I passed 1 then 2, then 3, 4 riders and starting gaining on the others. Who is ahead? How far? How fast? Can I catch them?

All this flashing through my head. The finish line coming up way too fast.

I throw the bike forward and cross the line.

Stretching it out for the finish

Cheers!

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