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July 19, 2011

The One that Got Away

by hammonjj

North Boulder Classic is, well, a classic in Boulder.  A criterium with a rich and storied history with numerous big names coming out to race, and win, the event each year.  This year was my first attempt at this technical criterium.  In fact, given the nature of the course, I came into the day with extremely good feelings about the day.

As has become the norm the last few weeks, BRC Reality decided that they would drive the front for the first several laps, attacking and then slowing the peloton at the front.  This tactic is particularly good at a course like this one because they were able to keep everything strung out most of the race.  I’ve been taking a different approach to my racing in that, instead of hiding in the middle of the peloton, I have been ensuring to stay in the top three to eight riders.  From previous experience and basic logic, this should work out as all of the action naturally happens at the front (this also helps avoid crashes that happen from people diving corners.

The race, while hard, was mostly a broken record of everyone racing to the first corner to get the whole shot going to down the alley and into the shicane.  From there, the race would slow down for a block or two and then the pace would pick up again going through the finish line and into the first corner.  I managed to stay in my coveted position for the entire race and, with five laps to go, I could feel the effort of staying there get to me.  I was experiencing horrible cramps in my calves, but I knew I could fight through it.  I was still strong and was planning a glorious attack near the shicane on the last lap!  With two laps to go, the lack of oxygen to my brain got to me, I cut a corner too shallow going into the alley and was forced off course.  I had to pull a cyclocross style manuever to get back on the road and void hitting a telephone pole at 28mph, but, despite my best actions, this move cost me ~20 spots and I was now near the back of the group for the final lap.

At this point, I was mentally defeated, but I fought my way back through the peloton to finish somewhere in the middle of the pack.  My position and conservation in the race was perfect and was a race I could win; anything less was a failure.  None the less, the unpredicatable can happen in racing and this just showed my inexperience in the closing laps of a criterium.  Next weekend, at the State Criterium Championship, I will NOT make such a silly error.

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