The Ballard Criterium was last Saturday. I pre-registered for the race to avoid my Volunteer Criterium experience, which was line up the nanny, show up ready to rock and feeling great, then find out the field is full. My good friend from Vet school was in town and is thinking of moving here. He is also an avid cyclist so I took him on the bicycle tour of Seattle, which is of course the Lake Washington loop. He is in decent shape these days and our ride was not as slow as I would have liked, given that I was signed up to race in Ballard in the afternoon. Lucky for us it was the first nice day in about 2 months and we had a great time. Hopefully I swayed him towards moving to Seattle as a result.
I didn't have high hopes for a good finish after the little warm up. Last year I was thankful to finish unscathed as numerous crashes whittled the field down to twenty-some finishers. But I was feeling good until the race was stopped to remove an unconscious rider that had crashed. There was some griping from other riders, which I thought was interesting. For all we know he is paralyzed or worse. I would have been happy to be done at that point. But as they carry him away he gives us the thumbs up and our race is restarted. Everyone sprints like mad, of course, and it really hurts after having been stopped for a while. I managed to win a points preme and then thought maybe I do stand a chance for a decent finish. I decided to stay close to Matt and Kyle from Recycled Cycles, my pick for the win at that point. Sure enough they move to the front and start drilling it with a few laps to go. I was third or fourth wheel behind them- perfect place to be. Their pace has everyone strung out in a line- perfect for a crash free finish. Out of the last corner I sprint but can't overtake them. Bernard from Hup, recognize him from cyclocross races, had a nice kick and easily passes me so I get fourth place. Probably my best road result so far given the field- maybe I need to rethink my warm ups for these races. Much to the wifes chagrin (already been gone all day on the bike) I stick around to claim my prize- celeste green bar tape a too-large jersey and shirt. If anyone with a celeste green Bianchi is reading this, let me know, I have some bar tape for you. Definitely not complaining though- I won a pair of speedplay pedals for a preme in Woodinville. That is pretty sweet for a cat 4/5 race.
Thanks to everyone that made the Cascadia criterium series happen this year. It combined the best local criteriums of the year into a series and made them all better. And added a couple of new venues!
Podium ceremonies, great organization, great prizes awarded... this is the new standard for local road racing around here. I was only able to make the Woodinville and Ballard race but I would have done them all if I was able to.