Another late race report! This one is for last Sunday's criterium at Salisbury. I was in two minds about whether to race this -- I'd heard reports that the course was probably going to be a bit sketchy, and Salisbury seemed like a long way to ride for a 20 minute race. I got up on Sunday morning, had breakfast, and couldn't think of anything better to do. So I decided, why not...
I'm glad that I did. The course was around the Salisbury shopping centre, and they'd setup quite a bit of stuff to keep spectators occupied around the start/finish line, like a BBQ and an area where some trial mountain bike guys were doing their thing. So there was kind of cool feel too it.
Unfortunately there was a very small turnout for the graded races, with a grand total of seven of us lining up in C-grade. I knew pretty much everyone, and the two recently juniors-turned-open were probably the guys to watch (Kyle & Alex). The only person I didn't know was a guy on a Colnago who'd just come up from D-grade (where I'd seen him win with a long solo breakaway).
We decided at the start line to ride an 'easy' first lap because none of us had really had a chance to ride the course. Off we went.
The course started on a very narrow section of paved road, lined with barricades. There was a hard chicane to the left, and then we turned right at a roundabout, taking the long way around! This was probably the hardest bit of the course. We then rode straight through another roundabout, out to a 180-degree turnaround. This sent us back to the second roundabout where we turned left, this was followed by two 90-degree right handers to get us back onto the first straight. The second of those right handers was on paved road with a very tight exit, and so some serious care had to be taken!
We started out pretty quick, with Kyle, Alex and Colnago-man taking some hard turns at the front. I sat in fourth wheel and the other three settled in behind me. The 180-degree turn was probably the hardest point, and it took me a few laps to really get the hang of it - I always seem to take these turns too wide for some reason.
The next bit of this race report is for Alex B -- who has promised to buy me a beer everytime I go off the front in a crit. Little does he know, I have gone off drinking for a while, but he can buy me an orange juice or something.
Anyway, I did attack once during the race, just after the 180-degree turn. I hit it hard on the straight and went waaay too hot into the left hander straight afterwards, only just managing to avoid putting myself into the concrete median on the exit of the corner. Whoops. I stayed clear for a bit under a lap, but didn't get a huge amount of distance on the guys chasing. I don't know if this qualifies me for a beer-slash-orange-juice!
After that we were all together again and I went back to about sixth wheel for a lap or two. We were about 13 or 14 minutes into the race according to my computer, so I thought given that it was meant to be a 20 minute race, I'd sit back and then move up in another lap or so before the bell -- well the bell rang right then!
On such a tight course it was pretty much impossible to do anything after this. Kyle, Alex and Colnago-man got a gap on the rest of us as we neared the finish, and I believe Kyle got the win. Lesson learned (again): stay at the front, stay at the front, stay at the front!! (and don't trust how long the race is meant to go for)
The A-grade and Teams races were quite entertaining, with some superstars showing up to race: Bobridge, Meyer, Durbridge, Hepburn, Dennis... basically the Australian teams pursuit squad, who I think are all in town to train up for the Worlds in March.
We witnessed a very sneaky tactic by Jack Bobridge and Gene Bates - during the teams race warmup lap, they pulled off the course after about 100m and doubled back to the start line, so that they could line up at the front! Those two and Rohan Dennis ended up breaking away very early on and were never caught.
Port Adelaide Cycling Club's 125th birthday criterium is on tomorrow at Wingfield, I'm pumped for it!