Sunday, March 9, 2014

Red Kite Criterium, Livermore - Getting Over My Fear of Crashing!

Please, God of Cycles, give me the points to get out of the cat. 4s! 

I drove to Livermore nursing the back end of a cold hoping to have a reasonable day of racing. My first race was the open cat. 4s. It was a forty minute race on a fast criterium circuit, unfortunately, many erratic riders made it less than fun. There were four or five crashes over the course of the race! Too much adrenaline, testosterone, and lack of experience. I avoided the first couple of crashes. Nothing too major, for the riders, thankfully. 

I had fun on a prime lap just missing out by a wheel length. I was resting up after the effort, carefully working my way back to the front. On the back straight coming into the final lap, "BAM!" two riders went down in front of me. I steered to avoid the carnage but, unfortunately, a rider went one way, his bike the other- straight into my path. I tried to bunny-hop it but landed with my front wheel in the middle of the frame, and found myself kissing the tarmac rather abruptly. My greatest fear of cycling made a reality. I bounced up, the clarity of adrenaline pulsing through my veins, picked up my bike, straightened the brakes, put the chain on, and jumped on my bike - "POP!" my tyre blew! The crash had made a hole in my tyre wall. The small inner tube bubble it created burst. Frustrated,  I took off my shoes and wheeled my bike the 300 meters to the finish, discontentedly watching the front group race to the finish. Apparently, there was another crash on the second to last corner and the peloton was rudely split apart.

Thankfully, I was fine - just a little road rash and slight strained wrist and hip. Unfortunately, the instigator of the crash took an ambulance to the hospital. I walked to my car, took off my wheel, and put in a new tube. I hadn't noticed the hole in the side wall of my tyre but I did after I inflated my spare inner tube and it blew. Thankfully, a kind cyclist sold me a new tyre and inner tube and with 5 minutes to spare I made the Masters 35+ cat. 3/4 race. (Lesson learned: bring at least 2 spare tubes and  tyres, and a spare set of wheels!)

The Masters 35+ 3/4 was a much calmer race with a stronger pace throughout. My only aim for this race was to finish - to get back on the horse - so to speak. An early break away of two riders stuck and they won the race. A funny thing that happened was I thought the peloton was racing for a prime but in fact it had already been won by the two in front. I had an amazing mid-race winning sprint for nothing! Another rookie mistake on another day of learning! 

I am happy to report I am back in Santa Cruz, looking forward to another week of training.


  1. Glad to hear you're all right Matt. Why are we racing crits, remind me again please?

  2. They are fun when people follow wheels and biker etiquette. Other than that, I don't know?!

  3. Sorry Matt: be safe out there!

  4. Glad you're OK! I've seen crashes in every type of race you can imagine, but I will say Elite 4 races probably have a much higher rate! Note how different the descriptions of the Masters and Elite races are; Masters raced clean, won by a breakway; Elites full of crashes and mass sprints.


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