Another Syracuse Race Weekend has come and gone. It was very busy for everyone in the Onondaga Cycling Club since this is a three event race. This year it was called a stage race, but the GC was determined by points. It was a stage race mostly to force folks to ride all three events. The three events consist of a Road Race on Saturday that loops around an area near Otisco Lake, Saturday night Street Sprint in Downtown Syracuse and a Criterium on Syracuse’s Onondaga Park.
The Road Race starts at Song Mountain and follows Otisco Valley Road until the grinding climb up Oak Hill Rd. Oak Hill is not particularly steep, but it is long and grinding making it a challenging race overall. The finish is up a small climb back to Song Mountain. I did not ride the Road Race since hills aren’t my friend, and instead chose to help out. My job was to be a sweep driver. Basically I was free until the end when I would drive the course and instruct Course Marshalls and Fire Dept volunteers to pack up since the race is over. I ended up following behind the small pack of Pro 1,2s that were doing the ~30 mile loop three times. With the cold and drizzly conditions they weren’t going all out. Some of them seemed to be waiting for the final sprint up to the finish. I followed up to the start finish area where the Pros sprinted it out.
The Colavtia-Spokepost.com team did well with Andy Melencheko scoring a win in the Masters class and Jeremy Wickham getting a third. Many of the Colavita guys finished very well.
The Street Sprints in Downtown Syracuse had better weather as the sun started to peak through the clouds and the weather warmed up. Hanover Sqaure was full of cyclist and folks sitting at the bars watching cyclist go by. This was my first attempt at the Street Sprints which I always thought would be a perfect event for my ability. The event involves four or five cyclist at a time starting from a full stop and sprinting for two blocks. The first one or two moves to the next round. The key is starting from a dead stop, so you need a holder so you can stay clipped in. Unfortunately for me I could not stay upright. I don’t know if it was my holder or me, or my weight causing both, but I had trouble staying upright at the start. As soon as I clipped in, I would lean to one side and then have to clip out. This was getting embarasing as no one else had this problem before me. As more time goes by I got more nervous and almost contemplated starting the sprint with my toe down. This was even more troubling since I usually practice track stands at stop lights, and have been getting better lately. Maybe it was pressure, or being nervous or something. All this jostling took me right out of the sprint. As soon as the whistle blew signalling “go” I was delayed and totally sucked in the sprint. I just wish I could try it again.
Next day was the Criterium on the West Side. This is a race were I expected to do well as I placed third here two years ago. Last year I did not race since the birth of my baby girl made staying home seem more fun than riding. So, I was expecting to at least do as well as before. The course is a one mile loop with a small hill on the opposite side of the start/finish area. The hill is not a problem for me, and I usually use it to gain places during a race.
One concern I did have was that our field was unsually large and probably contained some squirrely riders. My tatic was to hope for a fast start and stay in the top ten in the pack. Then I would wait until the end where I would sprint it out. Things did not work out so well. The first few laps were extremely fast, and I hung on. But slowly, I kept drifting back. The problem for me was the downhill which had enough of a turn where I would touch the brakes to slow down. The others in my group did not, so by the bottom I would get a gap, which made it very hard to stick with the front group. A few laps later one rider went off road near the start/finish. He was flying at full speed somewhere around 30mph when he decided to try and jump back on the road. Not good and I was coming up with a bunch of folks behind me. As he came back on the road he almost swerved right into me causing me to slow down and lose momentum. This caused enough of a gap where I had to chase with a few TVC guys who did not like me working with them. They kinda worked me over as I led the chase down the back stretch to the hill at which point they all attacked to get by me. Thanks for working with me TVC!
After that I was in no man’s land losing places and got pulled. The judges were being a bit aggressive with the pulls as I was nowhere near getting lapped and could have eventually gotten back with the previous group. Oh well, at least I got finishing points.
So, the racing did not go very well, this is probably my worst ever performance at the Syracuse Crit. I never got pulled from the race before. I will work on speed in the next few weeks as the next major goal will be the Rochester Twilight Crit on June 24th. Watch for videos, and pictures very soon.
After the race I helped with corner marshalling, fitted some kids with free helmetsand chaperoned some kids during the the Kids Race. Colavita-Spokepost.com organized the Kids Race and it turned out to be a huge success. Lots of kids came out, we organized it so the races went smoothly and quickly. The kids got free helmets and got to see what bike racing is all about. There were some very strong young kids who should try cycling out as a sport.
Watch for more pics and video.