UN Reno Crit – 4/19/14 -Rich Gellert
Arrived in Reno late Thursday night. Plan was to visit folks for Easter weekend, do some climbing and race a crit. Friday I wanted to do a solid warm-up for the crit which was Saturday so I climbed up Mnt Rose. An awesome climb that goes from 4,400 feet up to 8,900 feet in 16 miles. Sometimes I do well at elevation other times I can relay feel it. Today was so so. It didn’t affect me too bad so I was able to hold a steady pace of around 9.5 mph, not a blistering pace but not a recovery pace either.
It didn’t feel like I did a lot of work but boy was I pooped out for most of that afternoon. I kept eating little bits and drank lots of fluids so I could recover as best as possible for the next day’s crit. I was to do the combined M35+ 3/4/5 cat at 9 am. I got there at 8:30 after a 40 min warm-up from the hotel and to my surprise the race scheduled for 8:00, the M35+ 1/2/3, was being combined with our race. So I would be racing 1/2/3/4/5…..exciting. This proves my point. When they offer a M35+3/4 cat 100% of M35 3’s are going to sign up for that. There were only 4 M35 1/2 signed up for their race and over 20 signed up for my race. We need more separate M35 1/2 and 3/4 races!
The description of the course said a “little bit of climbing”. Well they were a bit off. There was quite a bit. It was not your traditional crit course. There was a sketchy 120 degree right turn with a giant man hole cover in the middle of the best line. After that turn was a steep punchy little climb followed by a fast sweeping righty into a good little downhill then a fast chicane which led to a gradual grinding uphill back into the 120 degree corner. So after pre-riding about 10 laps I knew this was going to be tough. You needed balls of steel for technical corners and a good kick for the punchy hill…..all the while at 4,500 feet of elevation. All the guys pre-reged were from Reno or Truckee so me being the only low-lander put me at a bit of a disadvantage. Plus yesterday’s hill climb made me a bit worried about how my legs would feel. That and I am not a big fan of crits…especially ones with sketchy corners. But I need to get practice at these events and figured this was a good opportunity. That and my folks and two kids were there cheering for me expecting to see a good performance.
I lined up on the front line. The M35 1/2 had 100 series #’s and they were lined up front row as well. Bam! off the gun 2 of the 1/2’s jumped hard and started sprinting to get off the front. Crap it’s on! It was pretty frantic for the first few laps and totally strung out with no way to move up. It was near impossible to advance positions on the course except for on the steep hill. Two guys jumped across and that was it. Three 1/2’s and one guy from the 3/4/5 field established a gap. Three of the guys in the break were Audi riders and there were 7 other Audis in my field. Of course they blocked with 4 guys at the front soft pedaling. We must have dropped at least ½ the field due to the various ability levels. Well it was either sit in and get dragged around at a medium pace or do some work. I decided on the latter. I went to the front and started time trialing. I did this for at least 10 laps, each time perfecting the corners more and more. I got so good on the 120 degree corner that I scraped my pedal and skipped by bike out a few feet! Dang watch out for that kids. I started catching individual riders and then a big group of 6 loomed on the horizon. I slowly reeled them in and then passed them. I was dragging 5 Audi guys and few other randoms in our group. Things were pretty confusing from all the dropped and lapped riders on the course. They did announce they wouldn’t be pulling anyone so that made things extra confusing.…. bell lap and of course the Audis I was dragging around came to the front to sprint for 5th. Not sure where I ended up but it didn’t matter as I accomplished my goal of getting some good crit practice in.
After the crit I planned another 40 mile ride to Geiger Grade and back to the hotel. Geiger is an awesome climb with perfect pavement and gradient. Ended up with 80 miles that day and lots of high altitude climbing. A great weekend overall.