Monday, June 18, 2007

13 Hours on a Barstool: AT&T Crit Report

On Saturday 6/16 instead of any form of exercise all I did was sit on a bar stool, and watch bike racing. The next morning my calves felt like they were on the verge of cramping. It was strange having that sensation since the closest I came to my bike in the preceding 3 days was passing it in the garage.

Here's how the day unfolded.

Raining Again

The original plan was for Michael to come to my house at 0730 AM, and we were going to ride down to the 2nd St District and watch Daniel race with the Cat 5's, and then hang around until 0930 and watch Gerry ride with the Masters 45+, 55+, and 65+. Gerry was the only 65+ racer, so it would be basically a 50 minute victory lap.

Alas, all of this was not to be on account of the sound of thunder that awakened me from my pre-AT&T crit slumber at 0430. When I awoke for real, at 0630 it was coming down steadily and the roads were very wet. Michael showed at my place at 0715, and he and I drove downtown for coffee and bike racing. I let him borrow a pair of my citizen shorts, and I put on my Velocity jersey, and wore a pair of citizen shorts as well. Even though I wasn't going to be riding, I thought it was important to show some "club love" for the home team.

We arrived at the Start/Finish line at 0730, and got some coffee and breakfast tacos. We pulled up some bar stools and got ready to spectate. We found out then the that the two Cat 5 races has been combined for "safety reasons" on account of the rain. As a result instead of 20 racing in each race, there were now 40 Cat 5's racing.

Enter the Guppy Hunter

Frank showed up at 0800. He had been threatening to ride from So. Dallas to the race, but the rain put him in the Dodge truck. He found a bar stool, and we all got ready to watch some Velocity smack down. In reality, Michael and I went to the turn #1 to watch what we thought would be the inevitable crash of the Cat 5 race. Daniel was in the peleton respledent in his Velocity kit. Here's a photo of him negotiating turn #1 at some point in the race:

Daniel looked good, and reported later that on account of the wet road conditions the peleton never really got its rhythm together. Daniel looked good as he finished. He didn't crash, and he lived to race another day.

Where's Gerry?

At 0900 there was no sign of Gerry King our Velocity 65+ representative. I got on the phone, and reached him at Casa de King wherein he informed me "I've broken too many bones to risk racing on wet streets." Fair enough. I asked him if he was planning to come on down to spectate, and he demurred. Since I really didn't have a whole lot else to do, I got some more coffee from Jo's and settled in to my bar stool for some Master's racing action. Here's photo of Michael and Frank enjoying the downtown spectacle:

Working the magic of my cell phone, I reached John Howell at Casa de Howell, and harrassed him and his lovely wife to come down and join the rest of us non-racers. Luckily they obliged. The Master's race was quite exciting. Greg Hall from Violet Crown and 3 other Master's racers got into a break and stayed away. Greg's team did a great job neutralizing any attempt to bring the break back. Meanwhile John and Maureen ordered breakfast. Watching and cheering all that racing made me really hungry, so I helped myself as Frank "the Guppy Hunter" Irwin offered a distraction. Who is that man in the shades? Crusty, is that you?

During the race Phil Sladek had the tell-tale sign of a crash, torn shorts. Unfortunately, that would not be the only pair of torn shorts we'd see. There was a crash in every single race. Quite a few were in turn #1.

Sun-up to Sun Down

I wish I could say the rest of the day was more interesting. What the day consisted of was Frank, Michael, and I sitting on bar stools, ogling women, eating, and taking pictures.

It was a great day.

Probably the most exciting race was the Women's Cat 3/4 race, naturally.

At the finish, a rider from Violet Crown offered up an intense sprint for the line with Violet Crown taking the victory and Lori Barnet from Velossimo taking a close 2nd.

Throughout the day as I coughed down homemade potato chips and coffee, I never had a regret about not racing. This was especially true when I watched the Cat 4 race, and a rider from Wooly Mammoth limped across the line.

Michael had said that the Wooly rider had run into a barrier on one of the straights.

The other dramatic crash was in Turn #4 right before the finishing straight in the Cat 3 race. There was a literal pile-up of bikes and bodies sliding into the hay bales.

Pro Time

The pro race started at 7 15. Toyota United, AEG Toshiba, Health Net A& F Development Squad, and some other pro teams were represented along with usual pro suspects: Team Hotel San Jose, Team AT&T, and Bike Barn. The race had about 100 riders, and they literally tore up the course. Their bike handling was superb, and they made it all look really easy. Here's a photo of Frank Pip from Health Net on one of the circuits. He eventually got 2nd:

Another notable rider was Kristian House who rides for the Navigators. He apparently spent his formative cycling years in Austin, and then went to England and became a pro. He was quite impressive as well. I heard somewhere that the pros averaged about 27 mph around the .5 mile circuit. Very impressive.

There was a 3 man break during the latter half of the race containing a rider whose name escapes me, Sean Sullivan from Toyota United, and local yokel Phil Wikoff. With one lap to go, Sean had a 7 second gap on the field, but the escapees were caught in the final turn when Cuban Frank Treviaso took the sprint. It was a really awesome race, and if you missed it be sure to get out there next year.

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