Friday night 8pm: Criterium in Downtown Norcross.
The race was actually in a cute little neighborhood right near dowtown. There were cute restaurants and bars and live music for entertaining. Karel's race was 90 minutes and with the race starting at 8pm, there were large lights all around the course.
Karel said he felt good all day and after his 7th place finish, he was ready to give it all for the crit. The race started almost on time and the pace was fast. Too fast (and dark) for me to get many good pictures but with a .9 mile course I walked all around the course to cheer.
Karel was in a few break aways even though the lead group (of 5 guys) LAPPED the field! I think they were averaging 36mph (said a spectator) and there was nothing easy to this course. There were large climbs, descends and tight turns.
To sum up the race, Karel was in the front group with 3 laps to go. Although the race directors put up a little number by the finish line to say how many laps to go, the course was almost pitch dark and you could barely see anything. The announcer gave away a $100 prem for the 2nd to last lap but he really said "1 lap to go" at the same time as the prem. So, Karel and Chris Scott (who was in the lead group and had lapped the field) and many other riders were racing for the finish of the race. Well, as Chris and Karel come across the finish they both think they are done and just stop pedaling to start spinning their legs. The entire lap they were giving everything they had to finish the race. Karel was racing for 7th place and Chris was racing for 2nd. Well, the official messed up and boy was Karel and Chris (and others) upset. Now Chris ended up in who knows place and Karel was 33rd.
Karel and the other guys tried to protest (normal in cycling races after results are posted. You have an hour to protest if you don't agree with the results) but the officials said they made a mistake.
Karel wasn't mad mad, but he was upset. He was feeling so good the entire race and if he knew there were 2 more laps to go (and not 1) he would have waited until the last loop to breakaway mid-way in the loop.
Well, Friday night was a restless night for Karel after getting home at 10pm and full of endorphins. As for me, I went right to sleep since I had a road race to do the next morning.
My morning started with oatmeal, raisins, some banana and a piece of toast w/ PB. Karel and I left our hotel at 10:45pm for my 12:07pm race. There were a few sprinkles of rain in the morning but not like last year (my first road race here) there were not storms before the start of my race. And, not like last year there were about 15 girls in the Cat 3/4 race. Oh boy! Nervous!!! I kept telling Karel that the nervous hamster in my tummy was just running on his wheel. Oh I was nervous.
Well, the race started quickly and before I knew it I was in a break with 7 girls. I spotted Karel on the other side of the course and he was cheering and taking pics. What a good spectator. The course was 6.5 miles long and there were 4 big climbs. One steady long climb which was the KOM (king of the mountain climb) and then one BIG steep climb. We did 4 loops of the course and the pace never slowed down. The best part was that we lapped the Pro 1,2 girls! They had another loop to do after us (they did 5) but my group worked hard, rotated and raced the entire 4 laps. Well, the race came down to the finish and I was still with the 6 girls. The final sprint was around a corner and I kinda lost it at the corner. And with my lack of sprinting skills and very few fast twitch fibers and I came in 6th place. I was happy I finished because I wanted to quit before lap 3. These girls were strong and the race was not even rolling..there was so much climbing!
So I spun my legs and wished Karel good luck. His race was at 2pm and I had just enough time to change my clothes, grab my camera and run to the start.
Karel did this race last year and barely hung on. The race is only 65 miles, so it is "short" for a road race. However, there is nothing easy about this "short" race. Really, this race is all about attrition. If your body can withstand the pace and you can make it to the finish, you will place well. About 1/2 the field dropped out last year and with a mix of humidity and rain this year, I knew the race would be hard.
Karel did really well for the first 4 loops (of 10) and he was sitting in the front field. There weren't many breakaways so the group was just sticking together. A lot of the full-time pros were dropping out and I don't blame them. After 2 days of racing on non-flat roads and then having to do a very fast and hilly road race, this was goig to do be a sore group of riders. I was sore just watching them.
I made my way to the feed zone and fed Karel twice. He took both bottles of heed+aminos and by the 8th lap the field had really split up. There weren't many people left in the race (probably a little less than 1/2 of the starters) so I was just thinking "hang in there Karel".
Well, Karel hung on until the body said no more. Unfortunantly, the body said no more at the 9th lap. I wasn't really bummed for him because I was suprised he made it until the 9th lap. If anything, I was so proud of him. I couldn't believe that he made it for over 50 miles with these guys. Karel said his muscles were just shaking at the first loop and the entire race was hard for him. Well, the majority of riders were hanging out at the finish and a few guys were at my car w/ Karel just talking about the race. Finally the racers finished and I think about 30 people finished. Ouch....what a painful day.
Karel is still sore and I am trying to keep my complaining to a minumum. I am racing again today at noon for my first ever circuit race. I am very nervous because the course is fast, rolling and there are a few sharp corners. I'm sure the same girls will be there and it will hurt more than yesterday. Karel races at 2 and I don't know how he can do this for 4 days in a row. As I mentioned, I am not complaining about my one road race soreness and wanting to quit after the second loop :)
I have so much respect for Karel because he is so passionate about cycling. A little crazy that he likes this pain but I just think he is amazing.
1 more race to go.....