Sunday, March 30, 2014

Santa Cruz Criterium, Sunday, March 30th, 2014 By Matthew Sloan

Skin Corner/Road Rash U-turn

I was really looking forward to my hometown crit. I'd done some intervals on the course in the preceding weeks and I felt good about the hill finish. 

8:00 a.m. Open 4/5s
From about 7:30 the group began warming-up on the course. Due to the number of cars being towed from the course, we had plenty of time to ride loops. This gave me an opportunity to admire the lean, young, energetic bucks in the open 4/5 race.  "This is not going to be an easy one," I thought.

Yep, I was right. When we eventually set off, there were plenty of attacks and lots of fast paced racing at the front. The finish hill wasn't a problem and neither was the u-turn that comes a couple of hundred meters after the start. Everyone was slowing enough to make it safe. Until about 8 or 9 laps to go. I was on an inside line and a rider on my outside, blind to my position, turned sharply and took out my front wheel. Luckily it was a slow crash but I still had to curl up as a rider crashed into my back. I jumped up, full of adrenaline, got on my bike and rode the 3/4 of lap to the pitstop. There, I checked my bike, refastened my shoes - which had both come undone, and was allowed into the race at the back of the peloton. I quickly worked my way up to the top three but lost positioning on the last lap. (I should have worked faster down the back to keep in the first five for the final turn.) Unfortunately, I found myself in about tenth or twelfth on the final turn but worked myself up to sixth. Not bad with a crash!

9:45 a.m. 35+ 4s
Before sharing about this race, it has to be said I was late for my own birth. Well, I was a ten day over due, caesarean birth. The fact that I was born on April Fool's day says even more. Add to this, that in Britain you can only play April Fool's jokes until noon, and that my mum's doctor chose my birth time for 11:35a.m. - this truly makes me a British Fool! With my birthday coming up, today's race was truly a Foolish Birthday Gift. Okay, enough said, back to the race!

After the 4/5s I went home for a call of nature and to get my new number on, etc. I am about five to ten minutes from the start line. Before I left, the races were 15 minutes behind schedule. Also, I think my watch must have been slightly slow. Suffice to say, I arrived at the start line 40 seconds late. 1st lesson, don't ever go home, stay at the venue, and use the facilities there. 

I was so mad at myself for being late. I set off like the proverbial "bat out of hell." On each lap I cried out, "How far back am I?!" First lap - 40 seconds, second or third - 28 seconds. I was gaining on the group. I was on the rivet. Working as hard as I could without blowing it. I came to skin corner/road rash u-turn, I took it as sharply as I could. So very unfortunately, luck was not on my side, the god of fools was playing with my day, both wheels slipped out on the still damp inside line. There was nothing I could do. One moment I was up, the next, I was down, sliding to a stop. It was quite a dramatic looking crash. I jumped up but realized my race was over. I had lost too much precious time. Kicking myself for being late, for taking the corner too fast, I cycled slowly back to the start/finish, and pulled out. 

I stood and cheered on my teammates Bob and George. I probably would have done really well if I had been with them but we will never know. Bob offered to be my lead out for the final sprint. That is something I will have to look forward to for next time. I have a little bit of road rash to remind me, at least for a week or so, "take those corners easy, young man!"

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