Living on the east coast, you get used to the variable weather that the summers bring. Each of us Rogues are very familiar with the spontaneous thundershowers that ruin bar-b-ques, postpone lawn-mowing, and cause race cancellations. Five of us were faced with that very same predicament for the last Dixie Classic Crit of the month. We wanted to race, but a 50/50 chance of thunderstorms had us on edge. Still, we made the drive down south to Winston-Salem, gambling our race-eagerness with some Mother Nature whims.
We made the right choice because Mother Nature had a soft spot in her heart this Tuesday. Only the third vehicle in the parking lot, we arrived just in time for the officials to debate the race – some light rain having begun falling at that point. Minutes later, the rain ceased, the sun came out, and the wind was just as terrible as it was before. So, let’s race.
Actually, let’s race after an hour of warming up. The first crit, Cat 5 & citizens, began almost an hour late due to the tardy people registering. The course was an old go-kart or small auto track â€“ dead flat with dozens of surface imperfections and regular bumps throughout. Warming up on the track at speed, it was an uncomfortable track, to be sure. A warm up under our belts, we watched as the Cat 5 crit rolled off the line.
Matt Cage was representing Rogues in the Cat 5 race. Sticking to the pack for most of the race, he made several attacks resulting in some exhausted pursuers. At least from my perspective, it looked like a great race. He finished in the main field.
Some minutes later, the Cat 3/4 crit began. I was in this field along with Tim Ciarkowski, John Webb, and Eric Carlson. The field was a huge mix-match of ability and steadiness and, fortunately, the half-dozen of uneasy moments never resulted in a crash. Without any change of grade with which to shine on, I was fine with the knowledge that I wasn’t going to win in a group sprint so I prepared to work for the other Rogues. In order to keep my other teammates safely back in the pack while exhausting some eager riders, I attacked off the front on two occasions. Just like all of the other breaks that made an attempt throughout the 45-minute event, no one ever seemed to want to rotate with me in these breaks – a complete lack of cooperation that was the order of the evening. So, after running near threshold for a minute, I would reduce my pedaling and allow us to get pulled back in. Eventually, I succumbed to the field and just rode in the slipstream of other riders to the finish. Oh, and Tim won a mid-race $10 preem. We all finished at various points in the pack.
The flat course was nice to no one but the sprinters. A field of 47 riders and some narrow turns meant that moving up the field over a half-mile track was practically impossible. As the pace of the 3/4 crit picked up, it was clearly impossible to make it to the front unless you had already found your spot there. And, without inter-team cooperation in the breaks, the 3/4 field was a mess.
Anyways, the Pro 1/2/3 crit rolled out shortly after the 3/4s had changed back into street clothes. Tim and John Webb were feeling lucky and decided to go out for round two, there Cat 3 classification providing that opportunity. The lights above the track were turned on as the sun set, fulfilling the promise that these Dixie Classic crits would occur “under the lights”.
The Pro 1/2/3 race was a beast. The pace was fast. The cornering smooth. The breakaway of three Time Pro Cycling riders was the highlight of the race. Watching the pace of the main field made be weak in the knees, but then seeing the Time riders lap the main field twice could have made me vomit my Clif bar were I not careful. Tim finished in the field while John Webb knew better and pulled back.
Afterwards, IHOP. It’s where a cyclist properly refuels. I’m really glad we took the chance against impending weather and I hope we venture out for some of the remaining Dixie Classic crits this year.