Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Warm Welcome to Crit Racing=Meeting Pavement :(

22 Oct- Changwon "World" Criterium

Yes, you read that correctly, I raced 14 days after Kona.  While most people are slowing down and preparing for their "off season", I am still going strong.  There were 2 cycling races upon my return to Korea that I wanted to race before I called the 2011 season to an end.  One was a criterium which was this race.  The biggest reason to race this race was it was a 2012 TdK qualifier, and to make things better it had a $12,500 prize purse.

I wasn't really sure how it was going to go.  I did just do an IRONMAN 14 days earlier and wasn't too sure how the body was feeling.  I have switched coaches for the off season, more to come on that later.  I am going to a cycling focus to prepare to the best of my ability for the Tour de Korea which is in April 2012.  I will still be coached by Team TBB Online Coaching and Scott Defilippis after the TdK.  Obviously things went really well with him this year and we get along great.  I just have a good friend who is a pure cyclist that I have faith he can get me into some amazing cycling form.  So with that being said he put together my workouts leading into this crit.  I posted some solid numbers during the week and was quite shocking to see them myself.  How did I recover so quick?  I take recovery as serious as some of my biggest training weeks, it is a crucial part to being able to bounce back and race right away.  I take it really really easy when I am told to and I listen to my body.

We arrived down to Changwon after about 5 hours of travel.  It was raining and I was not looking forward to racing my first crit in the rain.  It had 2 180 degree turns, with one having a lot of sidewalk "paint" markings on it.  Which makes for a slippery surface and dangerous corners.  I was out warming up and was pulled aside by Chuck Hutcheson, a member of the US Military Cycling Team.  He wanted to show me the perfect line to take through the sketchy corner, he knows I am a triathlete and took me under his wing.  He is 39 years old and is full of great wisdom and knowledge.  Of course I took his advice and put it to use in the race when I was told to use that line, only in a breakaway.

The rain lifted an hour or so before the race start but the road never completely dried up.  We had 2 neutral laps, each lap was 2.4K and then we were off.  To make things interesting there were primes every 5 laps, which made for some serious hammer sessions.  I raced to my strengths and tried to get out in a few breaks, but we never had a successful breakaway.  I stayed up towards the front as much as possible, sometimes dropping back to mid pack.  With 2 laps to go we were all together and I had nothing to lose.  After coming across the start finish line it went slightly uphill then the 180 turn and slightly back down hill.  Right after the start finish I went off the front.  I stayed off the front for about 3/4 of a lap and they brought me back in.  I thought I was done at this point, but then I was able to recover in half a lap.  I started coming back through the group on the back stretch and they weren't going that hard.

I figured I would give it one last shot, off the front I went again, and I went off hard.  I opened up a small gap and came through the last corner in the lead, but still had 1200m to go.  About 200m out of the corner the eventual winner, Chris Uberti (CAT1 from the midwest) and Chuck (who is also a CAT1) came around me.  At this point I knew I couldn't hang on to their wheels so off they went, at this point I wanted to avoid a field sprint so I started lifting up slowly.  About 200m later my front wheel gets swiped by some guy and sends my front end into a vicious wobble.  My right foot comes un clipped and at that point I thought I had it save until someone got into my rear wheel and well the rest is history, I slid on the ground for a bit, luckily it was wet.  As I lay in the road for a few seconds, I realize I should get up before I get hit, good idea right?  So I look down the road and can't see anyone coming, slowly get up and take 2 steps then WHHHAMMM Kamikaze Korean cyclist hits me, now a pedestrian with no bike and I go flying into air.  Don't ask me how but he managed to catch me right in the jaw with either his helmet or shoulder, but I am pretty sure he recorded a KO, but I think I survived the 10 count, I mean I did get back up and ride my bike to the finish line, only took about 2 minutes to get up and going because I though my jaw was broken.

Luckily the only injuries I sustained was some road rash on my rear and really sore jaw.  5 days later I am at the pool and some little kid in the locker room is whispering to his dad.  I turn around to see what he is talking about and sure enough he is pointing straight at my bare ass and telling his dad about my "owwy".  Awkward to say the least, but the kid was kind enough to ask how I was doing when I told him I crashed my bike.  I told him I was doing good and even big kids fall of their bikes ;)

In all reality this was a warm welcome to the wonderful world of crit racing.  I have really started to enjoy cycling as it is so tactical.  I learned a lot from this race and am really happy with how I did other than going down.  It wasn't the fact of how I did that was so rewarding.  It was the fact that I helped organize getting 3 American Cyclist living in the US out here for this race.  I put a lot of effort into making this happen with the race organizer(they were supporting 10 people to come from all over the world).  I really enjoyed making sure these 3 guys had a good time in Korea and were able to experience the Korean cycling scene.  Lucky for Chuck he was able to finish 2nd and take home a nice pay check.  It was the highlight of my trip to make connections like that and help him get out here for this race and show what US Military Athletes are capable of.

Thanks again to everyone for their support.  A big shout out to Rapha Storck Korea for organizing our logistics for the trip, and a big THANKS to Jeremy Moon our team manager, he is a hard working man who is often over looked.  Our team really appreciates what he does, thanks man!  The race organizers also did an outstanding job, one of the best racing experiences I have had, hands down a first class event!  Special thanks to Maria Choe for helping out with all the logistics of the stateside guys!

Here are some pictures from the race:

1 comment:

Chuck Hutcheson said...

Thanks for helping get me there! Looking forward to TDK!!