After being unsure of whether I was gonna be able to race this race or not, sale I was jazzed to find out that I was in the race a week and a half before its debut. Ive been feeling really good in crits lately, and was looking forward to a race where a great A game was required to finish. This race is the next to last stop for the USA Crit calender, the Championships being the finale this weekend in Los Vegas(sadly, I wont be able to make it there. Next year Baby!!!). I knew it was going to be fast and aggressive, but felt it might be a good race for me since the really big guys were at tour of Missouri, so I was hoping to make some moves. It was also starting just after twilight, so it was dark for the entire race. It was a lot of fun racing at night like this, but there were a few pot holes I would hit just about every other lap, and couldn’t quite figure out where they were in the dark.
We were started on a numbered grid pattern, with assigned spots on the start line according to your race number. I was started near the back, so with a field of about 150, it was going to take some crafty riding to get up to the action. The first 15 minutes were fast as can be, with the whole pack strung out single file. There was definitely no easy way to the front, but I kept my eye open for any gaps opening up and gained a few positions every lap. It slowed down just a tad, and made moving around the pack a little easier when it became two or 3 riders wide, providing you were willing to fight for your spot and throw a few elbows to keep it. I moved up and was starting to get somewhere when there was a pile up I got caught up in. Considering its night, dark and nearly impossible to see wheels on some stretches of the course, including this part, it was bound to happen. I made my way over to the pit for a free lap, luckily I wasn’t banged up from the mishap and my bike and I were ready to hop back in the race. When I got back into the race, I ended up catching onto the pack in about the same position I was when crashed, so I was happy that I didn’t lose any positions. A few laps later, I was at the front, going along with a move to try to get a gap. But this race wasn’t going to go down that way, the whole field was super aggressive and thirsty for some action, so it was brought back shortly. I went with a few more attacks, but nothing was sticking, both because of the packs speed and unwillingness to commit by any riders getting OTF.
I was at the front when the mid race sprint came around, but like some idiot, I was on the front pulling, so I knew that I probably wasn’t going to take that sprint given the timing. Sure enough, a mass of riders shot out on my left going into the up hill section, I moved into the draft and broke into the pace line of the screaming fast racers, but was at least 15 riders from the front, no place to be winning anything from. I still had a good seat to watch the sprint from though. The continued into the night like this, a couple of riders would get off, then they would come right back to the pack. It was a blast racing at night, and the screaming, cow bell ringing fans energized the pack, keeping the speed and energy up. There was a crash going into the final lap, I hit the breaks, and managed to avoid this one, but was far outside of making it into the money, so I just rode easy around the last lap to the finish. About half of the riders who started the race actually finished, so it seems it was a fast race and I wasn’t just imagining it. Good times on the streets of San Francisco.