Mayor Ballard getting ready to lead the parade lap for the cat 1/2/3 race.This is my second time doing the Mass Ave Crit (or Massachusetts Avenue Criterium, if you prefer).  I liked the event last year, and this year I loved it!  Huge improvement.  Course design, community participation, overall excitement level–just great.  It was everything that urban racing should be.  Looking forward to more of the same next year. 

My race started at 8.  Pretty early considering warmup, registration, and the fact that I had just gotten back from a three-day trip to Trek World the night before (more on that in a later post).  So I wasn’t exactly feeling spry when we came off the start line and into the first of dozens of 120 degree turns.

A brief aside to my fellow category 3 riders:  let’s try to get over ourselves a bit.  Let’s not ignore the basic instructions that the officials give us on the start line, since we seem to have trouble following them.  Let’s not pretend we’re incredible bike handlers, since we’re creeping through those turns at 18 mph.  And let’s not scream at each other to "hold your line" at the slightest deviation from ruler-straight; this is a criterium, not a team time trial, and some amount of jostling around is unavoidable.  And that’s not a sarcastic use of the first person plural; I am guilty of those same sins.  Just trying to get better.

Anyway, my legs started coming around as the race went on.  I never quite found the sweet spot at the front, and kept finding myself drifting toward the back, with the legs but not the position to respond as dangerous-looking attacks materialized.  Luckily, the relatively high pace kept anything from getting too far off the front.

As we came down to the last few laps, I found myself near the back, but felt like I had the rhythms of the race figured out.  I started picking off a few places with each corner, and found myself in prime position heading into the last lap.  Then I got a lesson in why you try to avoid the outside line on the last corner:  people slide out in front of you!

Thank you, fortuitously placed curb cut!The crash piled up right in front of me, against the curb, and there wasn’t any more road to use.  Luckily, there was a curb cut right in front of me!  Heart pounding, I rode up onto the grass, under a tree limb, onto the sidewalk, and back on to the course via a driveway about 50 yards later.  I passed a couple of riders and wound up 11th.

Kind of a bummer, since I thought I was on my way to top 5 or better.  But I’m really just happy to be out of it with all my skin.

My teammate Michael Schroeder won the cat 4 race for the second year in a row.  Time to move up–I was the only MOB rider in my race!

One more to go, the Marion Classic.  Then some easy riding and mountain biking during September.  Then a long winter’s nap.  And by "nap," I mean "hours and hours of dripping sweat on the trainer."