Stan Gurney VC Memorial Criterium
Midland Cycle Club
Open D grade
25 April 2014
I rode this race last year, it was a tight circuit with two hotdog turns. Unfortunately, in a big field, I started third row, the rider in front failed to clip in and my race was over by the first corner. I did manage to make it to the second group and used the hotdog turns to move up, until the last lap the rider in front of me crashed. I avoided him, lost all momentum and finished at the back of the second group.
This year the circuit had changed to a rectangular circuit, unfortunately it was anything but conventional circuit. From the start finish straight, the first left turn was brick paved. That was not an issue, I was happy taking that at speed. Next was a short straight with three sets of railroad tracks. Followed by a turn through a large gate. My first couple of practise laps, I was a little nervous about the corner. But once the race started I found that my unwillingness to push hard on the railroad tracks, meant I was not carrying enough speed into the corner.
The back straight was punctuated with speed humps. You had three choices to avoid the humps: far left, far right or straight down the middle. Unfortunately straight down the middle, there were drains in the middle of the road about 5 metres past the speed humps. So riders were verving left and right to avoid the drains.
Next corner was a brick paved roundabout. Instead of going on the inside of the roundabout, the circuit went on the outside of the roundabout. I assume because race director was concerned about the line riders would of taken through the inside of the roundabout and the chances of crashes. Instead the outside of the roundabout caused problems for a few riders including me and resulted in crashes in all grades except A.
Once you got past the roundabout, a sweeping bend took you to the short start finish straight.
I lined up on the front row and watched the E grade race. This made sure I did not get caught like last year. Unfortunately I was the one who had trouble clipping in. Still I settled in around 10 to 15th place, which is where I stayed for most of the race. The next couple of laps you had riders moving up, riders dropping back, the bunch then split and I assumed my usual position as ticket collector.
I was too slow over the railroad tracks, so I had to work hard out of the corner onto the back straight and while I was not confident on the roundabout I was better than the riders I was following. They were taking really strange and inconsistent lines. I was glad I was not attempting to ride two wide through the corner with them. I was surprised only one rider crashed on that corner in our grade.
Towards the end of the race, i knew I did not have what it takes to be competitive in the final sprint you needed to be in the first four out of the roundabout. So with 3 laps to go, I attacked down the back straight, got a small lead, then did my worse attempt at the roundabout. Though the rider who was chasing and passed me on the outside, was confident in my cornering. I tried picking up the pace out the sweeper, but my legs were spent. The bunch was back together, even though the photo might look otherwise, my race was over. Lost a few places over the railroad tracks and I ended up at the back of the bunch by the roundabout.
Which is where I stayed until the final sprint, passing one or two tired riders. Overall better than last year, but far from my best recent criterium performance. More due to my lack of confidence riding the railroad tracks and the roundabout. Still I was a lot better than earlier this season. I will be back next year, it is a good race, even if I do have trouble with the corners. Though I expect a difference course after a bad accident in A grade down the back straight.