Town Center Criterium
One of my favorite races (in my short cycling career thus far) is the Town Center Criterium in El Dorado Hills, CA. There’s just something about the combination of tight turns, hay bales, a cheering crowd, oppressive heat and a long finishing stretch that really does it for me. Actually the oppressive heat is terrible … I take that back. Everything else about the race is really top notch. Last year was the first time that Folsom Bike put on the race at this venue, and with pockets full of ice, I hung in for a 5th place finish. This year, I returned with Pete the Meat Morris (from Team Clif Bar) with high hopes of a victory.
This year I managed a 6th place finish, which I was reasonably happy with. In retrospect, I did a lot of things wrong. I worked too hard in the wrong places and not hard enough in the last lap. With the technical chicane just before the uphill finishing stretch, you basically had to be in the top 3 wheels in the sprint or you were screwed. I sprinted hard to move up from 8th, but I think I could have done quite a bit better with better positioning.
In the middle of the race, I often found myself going all-out on the front, towing the whole pack around for no reason. That said, it was pretty hard to think straight with the 96°F+ temperatures. My soft Reno body is not used to riding above 80°F yet, so this was a huge detriment for me. Immediately after the race, I completely overheated and had to lay down on some cool concrete to get my wits about me again. Nonetheless, the race was fast, safe, and fun, and my buddies Matt Fanfelle and Sam Bolster did well with 2nd and 4th place finishes respectively.
Pete raced the Pro/1/2 category a couple hours later, and I was sure glad that my race was only 45 minutes instead of his 60. Guys were dropping from the race like flies due to the heat and the pace. Pete missed the winning break (which actually started out of a counter-attack immediately after a hard uphill pull), and he ended up 11th in an epic man vs. man sprint in the chase group. Thanks go to Folsom Bike for putting on the race! Oh yes… and I can’t forget the video evidence: