Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Chuncheon Hill Climb aka Missed Start & Crash

13 May-

Coming off of the win yesterday I was feeling really good about today.  It was broken down in age groups of 10 year increments.  Most Korean races are either open with everyone or age groups of 10 year increments, yesterday was rare to have Under 40 and Over 40.  Either way I know most of the guys in the 20's and I was going to be fighting for 2nd, with my teammate JY the favorite for our AG and the whole race.

We left the shop early in the morning and got to the race about 8, which we though was 1 hour prior to start.  No worries, plenty of time to get everything ready, not much time to warmup but luckily it was 13K of rolling terrain prior to hitting the 9K climb.  I planned to just sit in and get the legs woken up.  In order to do that you actually have to make it to the start on time.  So here comes the start of what I will describe as the "shit show", pardon my french.  I will pre face the next portions of this with, this might be a vent session about how Korean races are ran and mis managed.

I missed my start, the race started at 8:47, 13 minutes early.  One of my teammates came to the van and told me to hurry up they were starting soon, so I headed to the line and they were already off so I had to play catch up.  About 400m down the road I was doing about 25mph trying to catch up, not knowing how much work I would have to do but I was pissed off and that means riding hard.  I get to the first intersection, cops standing there hands in pockets not pointing to turn, and stopping a car from coming into the road, must mean I need to keep going straight.  Can't see anybody up the road so I figured I had a lot of work to do.  I kept hammering away and about 3 minutes later I started to realize I couldn't be on the course, so I turned around and went back to that first intersection.  Once again they are standing there with their hands in their pockets and don't have a clue what is going on.

By this point I know I am 6 minutes down plus however much I missed the start by.  I figured I would just get a good solo workout in and see how well I could climb the climb.  I kept hammering away and was just about to the climb when all craziness broke out.  I came up to an intersection that had a lot going on in it.  I have a picture below which shows what was going on and there was a lot of confusion.  I was in the process of passing a guy on the left and trying to figure out how I was going to make it through this intersection.  There was people getting off a bus yelling at the traffic cops and the cops walking back and forth on the straight section trying to get the people back on the bus.  I was focusing on that and all the sudden the guy I am passing decides that he wants to make a hard left to the road that is to our left.  Come to find out that is where we were suppose to turn.  No cop or marshal standing at the corner pointing left, no sign, just a few small chalk marks on the ground, that are not visible when doing 20+mph.  Our bars locked and the guys in experience completely destroyed any chance of us staying up.  I have learned to be calm in these situations and if not in a peloton to just slow down and then un hook the bars.  This guy decided to start violently shaking his bars thinking it would solve the issue, well that was not the case and next thing I know I am on the ground and my front wheel is destroyed.  According to my Garmin 800, impact speed was about 15mph.
Many of you from the states or other areas probably are wondering why people were cutting the corner short and so on.  In Korea all the races I have done have been closed roads, for at least the side of the road you are racing on or the lane you are racing in.  The yellow line rule does not exist and it is ride at your own risk if you choose to go into the other lane, however the lead moto will make cars in the on coming lane move off the road.  This is the norm here.  I am a firm believer in you should know the course, but when the maps are not detailed and there are no signs or marshaller's paying attention I get very frustrated with the race organizers.  It would be one thing if I could understand the street signs, or the maps they provided even provided street names.  My biggest complaint was this was two days in a row this had happened with poor marshalling and course markings.  Yesterday I benefited from it today I was a victim of it.

As a country, Korea is completely behind in the whole cycling spectrum.  The problem is they hold very few races, although each year there seems to be more.  Most of the racers only race the Tour de Korea, which creates a lack of racing experience.  They have no category system and at best you get age groups, which really solves nothing.  There Pro racing system is completely segregated from the amateur scene, if you are not in it from a young age you cannot get into it.  The pros are not allowed to race with amateurs, unlike the US where we have P/1/2 races.  Something needs to be done but it seems they just like to keep throwing money at these races which draws strong riders with not a lot of ability to show up to the start line attempting to cash in on a paycheck and instead cause craziness in the group.

As the race organizers are throwing big money at the races they need to start doing the little stuff well before doing the big stuff well.  The Crit this past October had $15,000 in prize money, all kinds of cameras and big screens, but not all that well organized of an event.  The race on Saturday paid $500,$300,$200 in 8 different categories, that is $8,000, and the race was horrible in terms of organization and course markings and having people to direct you where to go.

I am not sure what it is going to take to fix the cycling scene out here, it is not far off from being a good racing scene, they just need to start following suit with some other countries and start doing things "right".  I absolutely love racing over here, it just seems lately things have not been working out well and becoming quite poor, compared to mediocre like before.  I enjoy riding with all the riders out here, there are some very strong riders and then the crazy ones that you have to watch out for, just like anywhere else.  I hope things can take a turn for the better soon, because Korea can offer a lot from a training and racing experience for ExPats that come over here to live.

In the end I had a bad day, but the rest of my teammates did quite well.  As expected JY won our AG, Stpehen won the 40's and Elmer took 3rd in the 30's.  Good day for the team and a strong showing on the weekend.  Looking forward to this coming weekend where I will be trying to defend my WIN from last year, the DMZ race has been moved from October to May this year.  The course is absolutely beautiful with two great climbs.

Thanks again for the continued support!

 JY, Stephen, and Elmer with their certificates.
 The Wheel is destroyed
 Can't seem to figure out exactly how this happened.  Luckily HED has great customer service and a crash replacement plan.  A new wheel is already in the mail and headed out my way.  Very impressed with the whole HED crew and how quick they were to help me out.

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