All I want is a Coke. That is the key to my heart right now. A beautiful thing that fountain drink machine was. Piedmont triad omnium in Lexington, North Carolina successfully completed.
On Friday, as three friends and I were driving to Lexington, I lifted my tired head off the window and said “I can’t believe we are racing tonight”. The guys laughed at the randomness of my comment. They were thinking it too though. Nine p.m. race start. It sounded pretty cool that we would be “racing under the lights” but we truly underestimated the legitimacy of this race. We rolled up to the far corner of the criterium course in time to see the category 3/4 field pass. My reaction of “Wow, that is a lot of guys” continued on to “Dang, they just keep coming,” to “Holy crap man! That field was huge! That must have been 75 to 100 guys!”. Having seen a mere 25 entrants pre-registered for each race, we were all completely in shock.
I slowly rode my bike, ready to race, up to the course from the parking lot. My next excitement came when I saw a huge video screen like the one at football games. It came out of the roof of the trailer on a tractor-trailer. I stood in shock watching the cyclists on the video screen approach and roll through each of the four corners of the course until they soon came rolling back by the start/finish line. An announcer, on a massive stereo system, led the hundreds of locals as to what was going on during the race. This is legitimate. This is real.
When I rolled up to the start, it was completely dark out. The crew had turned on transportable lights that were scattered all over the course. My curiosity of how people who have never raced in the dark would do for their first time quickly turned to an answer when a cyclist wrecked on the first corner, a mere hundred meters from the start. Everyone settled in quickly though and come a lap to go, I was up in a perfect location ready to fight in the pack sprint. I stole the draft of a guy’s lead out for his teammate. His teammate jumped, I jumped. He got it. I got third.
I watched my friend race till eleven and then we returned to the hotel to ready for a time trial in the morning. Bed at 1:00 a.m., alarm set for 6:00 a.m. Second in the time trial. Consistency is key to omniums and no one could match the points I attained from the third and second. An omnium is a stage race in which a rider receives a point score from a placement in each race. For this omnium, the winner gets eleven points, the second place finisher gets ten, and so on down to one point. A criterium is a lap race in which the general rule is between half and 1.5 miles per lap. The second race of four, a time trial is a no drafting race against the clock. Riders roll out at intervals and race as fast as he can for a certain distance. Now those are typical races that most everyone has heard of.
But what came on Saturday, none of us could have prepared for. The race director had dubbed this race “Street Sprints” and gave us no idea of what to expect. After a good rest break, we showed up for the street sprints around five p.m. We had planned strategies for all the street sprint ideas we could think of and picked the one that fit. Six riders (eight for the finals) line up and at the gun, race downhill at first to a line 300 meters away. No rider could merely hammer the distance and expect to beat the others. The strategy was to catch the wheel of the first guy to attack and then pass him at the line. First and second of three heats proceed to the finals and third and fourth continue to an elimination round. First and second from that elimination heat go on to the finals.
Looking to my right to jump on to the wheel of the first man to jump off the line, a power house went off to the left of me. He jumped at the perfect time and I didn’t make up any distance on him. I proceeded to the final round where I attempted a race from the gun. Whoops. Three guys passed me at the line. My fourth place finish still gave me eight points.
The next morning was a road race in which riders go for miles on open roads. In this case, the road race was a ten mile loop done three times. After a failed break away attempt, absence of calories, and fatigue from the previous three races, my legs were getting tired. In the last five miles of the road race I was really feeling it. But as I watched a guy jump off the front to my right, I got on his wheel and was once again set up in perfect position for the finish. At near forty miles an hour I see the tent coming up fast and I put my head down to hammer it to the finish. Sadly that tent seemed a lot closer than it was and my fatigued legs couldn’t quite hold me to the finish. A sixth place still supplied me with the points I needed to seal an omnium win.
Category three upgrade and a couple hundred dollars in cash that paid for my trip, the adventure was successful and fun. But after a couple of coca-cola’s, my urges still continued. My grocery cart yesterday contained twizzlers, chips ahoy, oreos, a half gallon of Edy’s Cookies and Cream ice cream, and some fruit gummies. Coming up on 3sports triathlon this weekend and trying to drop four pounds by Luray triathlon, my binging is not looking too helpful.