Tint A Car Criterium
Open C grade
21 November 2013
You read it right, I was racing C grade in open competition. My results in D grade in open competition have not been that good. So in theory tonight was a step up, but with only 3 grades to choose from, it was C grade or nothing, and me being a race junkie, decided to give it a go.
The circuit was not the car park circuit used by PDCC, but a completely different circuit incorporating part of the drag strip, the service road that runs alongside and the competitors car park. From the start line on the service road, through the concrete burnout pit, through a kink under the bridge, a quick S in the car park, followed by two 90 degree turns, that you needed to treat as single turn. Unfortunately, with my poor night vision, choice of eyewear and lighting, I had difficulty with the exit of the final corner. Which meant I would drop a couple of bike lengths mid corner, to make sure I did not overshoot the exit and end up on the grass. Back down the service road, keeping right, which was an interesting challenge. A quick S through the concrete barrier, down the end of drag strip for 400m or so, a wide 180 degree turn, then back up the service road for 500m or so to the finish for a 2.5km lap.
The first lap was a neutral lap behind a car, then the race was on. Not knowing what to expect, I settled in as my usual position of ticket collector (last rider). The first real lap was at a frantic pace, and I had problems with both 180 degree turns at the top and bottom of the course. Still I had enough to get back on. I was wondering how long I would last at this pace. The next lap, the pack would drive out of a corner then slow and this was repeated. I settled down to trying to improve my cornering, it did not really matter if I got it wrong and lost a few lengths, as I could stay seated and drive out of a corner and catch the bunch within a couple of hundred metres. At one stage the bunch slow so much coming onto to the drag strip, I ended up firing off the front of the bunch. My adventure was short lived as I made my worst attempt at the bottom corner and went from the lead to the back of the bunch quickly.
The disadvantage of riding under lights was I could not read my garmin and my choice of eyewear meant I could not read the trackside clock, so I could not tell the time. I could see a few riders in trouble, so coming into what I hoped was the bell lap, I attacked after the bottom corner, got a gap and forced a reaction, I was on the front over the start finish line for the bell, through the S I was mid pack and dropped right back for the top corner. As usual dropped a couple of lengths and was struggling but nobody put the pressure on. So I stayed in contact, down the service road, onto the drag strip, a rider attacked but was easily countered by everybody. Rounding the bottom corner for the final time in last spot, I decided I was not going to finish last and would get past a couple of tiring riders in front of me. Off the final corner and riders attacked, but not everyone reacted. I started chasing down riders, I ended up passing most of the bunch on the way to the line, in fact only four riders crossed the finish line ahead of me. So fifth from 18 riders in my first attempt at open C, I was ecstatic.