The race started around 8:45pm and totalled 80K, on a 1K course. Approximately 2 hours of races. The announcer called up the "top" riders and after about 80 people gathered to the line, then came everyone else. Karel didn't even know where the starting was when the race started. As the biggest race of the year...Karel did not finish. Karel's teammates did not finish. And out of 150 starters, around 40 people finished. The average speed was around 35-37 mph and there were a lot of crashes. BUT....all is good. Karel said that he couldn't believe he was racing the athens twilight crit! He had his gearlink buddies cheering him on and he said the crowd was unreal. They had two dj's playing techno and getting everyone hyped up and the announcer was doing a great job of letting everyone know what was going on in the race. Karel made it to 40 laps (half way) and he didn't even see below 33 mph for his speed. He said there was a crash around 20 min into the race and it stopped around 20 riders. Luckily, they let everyone back into the race with a free loop but all Karel could be thankful for was a quick breath of air to slow down his heart rate. As the race continued, more and more people couldn't hang and the pack would start to break up. Karel kept fighting to move up but the pace at the back of the pack (because he started so far back) was crazy fast..of course, no faster than the front but it was hard to stay on people's wheels in the back. Therefore, more effort to not get dropped. Karel got dropped and the officialls immediately pull you to the side. Of course with it being around 9:30 at night in the dark, in downtown athens the crowd was still pulling for all the riders. You would think karel would be upset, mad or frustrated that he didn't finish (which he was a bit frustrated that he didn't make all the loops) but when he was pulled through the barriers and onto the sidewalk with the crowds....it was his moment to shine. See, when you do the Pro race at the Athens twilight crit...you are one of them. Karel was high-fiving people and he enjoyed the nice comments and cheers from the crowd. I guess to stay 1-loop longer than the last guy is an award in itself.
I am so proud of Karel and of course...he is hungry for more. With Athens as the beginning of the USA crits Speed Week, Karel will be racing on tues and wed in SC and then on sat in NC and sun in Ga. I will be watching him in NC and GA (FINALLY!) but I'm sure this is going to be an exciting and exhausting week.
I had a hard time using the word "quit" as the title of my blog. It is a hard word to use when you are an athlete. No one likes to quit. According to the definition "quitting means to give up, discontinue or to depart". Yes, these are all true definitions but I know Karel didn't want to give up. I know there are people who don't want to stop racing. Unfortunantly, the body says no more. I think I am going to start using the word "try" instead of "quit or failed". It is a much more appropriate word that I think athletes can learn to deal with better than being a quitter. TRY"To put to the test or to make an attempt". Really, this is what we, as athletes, do everytime we attempt a new race, distance or sport. We try our best. And if we don't succeed, it isn't because we failed or because we quit..it is just because we tried. I know deep in Karel's heart (strong heart!) and mine, it is always tough to not do as well as you would like. To have a goal and to not accomplish that goal. For cycling at karel's level, it is all about finish the race. I am so proud of him for trying and attempting to stay on as long as he could. So to everyone who has "quit" a race or failed at something, just remember how hard you tried until that very last moment.
"Failures are divided into two classes — those who thought and never did, and those who did and never thought."