I finally made it back to the Boise Twilight Crit after a couple years absence (since my first USCF racing season I believe). This year there were three sub-races, with the 3s getting their own race in between the 4-5s and 1-2s.
Still laid off with little else to do, I headed over early Friday afternoon. Hung out with Ronda. Not much to do on Saturday until time to go downtown at four.
Signed up, got number, went back to car, got out bike, got dressed, the usual. Started riding around the course. A few manhole covers in corners looked tricky, and some cracks across the road would bear watching, but it didn't look too bad. Nice and warm, no rain clouds looming nearby. Excellent crit weather. Rectangular course, about half a mile, 6 blocks by one block?
The field was halted at the start line, waiting for tow trucks to clear two cars off the streets around turns 1 and 2. The announcer was starting to annoy me with his urging the crowd to support these "beginning racers". We were sent off to do a parade lap or two while the tow trucks eventually arrived and move the offending vehicles.
And stopped again back at the start line. A little over 40 in the field, even a couple girls. Woo hoo. Off we go. Hey, it's still not raining. Great. The field isn't even too scary, though I do tend to hang out on the outside of turns rather than go bang elbows on the inside. Pace is not all that fast, a couple people take flyers. I even take one, with another guy, we are off the front for several laps. But it's too early, or we don't want to work that hard, whatever, it doesn't stick. Go and sit in the back for a while.
Must have dropped about half the field along the way somewhere, though I don't remember seeing people drift off while I was sitting back there. I wasn't too worried about getting dropped, the peloton didn't seem to be going all that fast. A few desultory attacks. One guy tried it several times, and eventually got away, almost out of sight/out of mind.
I didn't sense any particular team tactics, there weren't any with more than two or three riders, and I of course had no one to work with. So as the laps wound down it was every man for himself, and the one woman who hadn't been dropped. She was a little shaky, almost took me down a couple times. Bad girl.
I had already decided I wasn't going to be trying to pedal through the last corner at max speed, so with a few to go I was experimenting with position to see how everybody else was taking turn 4. Wide, was the answer, and it looked like if I tried outside there someone would put me into the barrier. Other alternatives included leading into the turn, which everybody else would be trying to do, and cutting back through traffic to the inside, also not very encouraging.
So I had just about decided to kind of sit at the back rather than crash near the finish when, bell lap, turn 4 arrived. The leaders were too far to get, but I started sprinting and catching people, and drifted over to the inside in the process. All the way up to fourth place with a throw at the line, even. One guy later claimed I cut him off, but I don't think he was going faster than I at that point, so that was his problem.
Cooled down, put bike in car and changed, came back to see results. Fifth, that's nice. Watched the 3s race. My old pal Paul Quinlan was off the front until a bunch of Boise guys dragged the pack up to him. Some words on effective racing tactics were exchanged at this point, and after the race as well, the Boise team eventually acknowledging that it was a dumb move. Especially since they had the most people in the field but couldn't manage better than a 7th in the field sprint.
Do I get a prize for 5th? Yes, but Mike the promoter is out warming up for the 1-2s race. Wait some more, watch the 1-2s race. Hmm, they look pretty fast. Local boy Alex Gardner was doing well until he flatted, that seemed to take some energy out of him. The last lap was timed at 37mph, with the sprint and $3000 won by Todd Littlehales - see VeloNews. Jamie Shipley from Poky got 7th or 8th, and he said it was all he could do the last lap to hang on in his 11t.
The various 3s and 4-5s tracked Mike down some time after the 1-2s finish, and prizes were distributed. I got a workout bag with a couple t-shirts and socks. Hey, I can use some new socks. Traded the bag to Ronda for a titanium chain tool replacing the one lost at Park City. Okay, that one wasn't Ti, so it's an "upgrade". No new Ti hex wrenches though, I really liked those too. Mumble mumble.
Sunday I went for a ride with my clydesdale competitor Mark Stones, up Bogus Basin road. At the top he said he was having to work too hard to keep up with me and renounced his claim to the series title by planning to not attend any more Wild Rockies races. He was still had a few more points than I at this time. Oh well.
In keeping with the laid-back laid-off theme I lounged along home on Monday.