What a drive last night. Our 3 1/2 hour drive turned into a miserable 6 hours. We sat on I-75 south for a little over 2 hours. We estimated it took about 45 min. to .5 miles and in the 2 hours we scooted down the interstate, we covered a little under 2 miles. Campy and I got so bored just sitting in the car that we got out and walked along the grass on the interstate. Karel and I were tempted to just pull over and ride our bikes the 20 miles to our exit but we toughed it out. Finally, at 11pm, we arrived to my parents. Ughhh, so tired.
At 7am we woke up to wind and cold outside. Although the temperature read 40-degrees, it was a lot chillier with the wind and no sun.
After my morning workout, I quickly showered, prepared my breakfast and we headed out at 11am for San Antonio Florida. Campy was super excited to go somewhere new and I knew he would love the open field at the San Antonio Road Race.
An hour later, we arrived to the race. After he picked up his number, Karel bundled himself up and got ready to warm-up. Campy and I walked around and said hi to lots of familiar faces. Lots of Gearlinker's were racing in the other categories so it was great to catch up with everyone.
The race was supposed to start at 1:30 but like usual, it was running late. Finally at 2:20pm, the Pro 1,2 riders + category 3 riders were on the line.
Within 20 minutes of the race start, I see an ambulance heading down the road on the race course. Normal Marni..."Oh no..it's Karel."
I walked down to the feed zone and a lady said that 6 riders went down, 2 bikes were totaled and one guy broke his collar bone.
Worried as can be, I just waited in the car until the riders came around for their second of 4 loops. Each loop was 17 miles (with 8 big climbs) so needless to say, I had a LONG wait until I had to chance to see if Karel was in the crash.
Each loop took around 40-45 minutes. Finally, I see the police car with the lead group of 4-5 behind the car. No Karel. Then another small group. Then another. Still no Karel. Finally the chase group of around 70 riders came and I didn't see Karel. Of course, it would be easy to miss him with all of those riders but usually he is easy to pick out with his neon green Oakleys.
Still worried, I walked w/ Campy over to the announcer stand (start/finish) and talked with one of the race organizers. Lucky for me, everyone knows Karel at the races so he radio'd to someone on the course if Karel was in the crash.
"No, Karel is still racing and he is fine"
Whewww. What a relief.
Campy and I walked back to the car just in time. The riders were coming in for their second loop and this time, I spotted Karel. He was sitting in the big group but there were less riders than the last loop. There was still several small groups ahead of Karel and with only 2 loops to go, I figured a top-25 finish in the Pro 1,2 category (Cat 3's are counted in their own category) would be amazing for him.
I did a little reading in the car (Hammer Endurance News) for the 3rd loop and I stood at the Feed Zone for the last loop, just in case Karel needed another bottle.
Karel passed on by and he was in a small group with 5 other guys. I'd say there was a 5 min gap between the leaders and Karel's group but with about 20 guys ahead of Karel and around 50+ guys behind him, I figured he was in a great position to be able to sprint for a respectable finish.
Since Campy and I never really warmed up during the day, we figured we would go on a walk in the field while we waited for Karel to finish his last loop.
Around 5:15pm Campy and I made our way to the finish line. Bobby Sweating won the race with the first chase group just behind him. What a close finish.
It was no surprise that the field was broken into a bunch of small groups and lots of riders had dropped out well before that last loop. Just a miserably cold and windy day out there on one of the toughest courses around.
Finally, the next group was coming in the distance and I could see someone standing up for a sprint. It was Karel!
I know that sprint!
Karel's group of 5 guys were looking pretty pooped and Karel easily sprinted away from them well before the finish line. The announcer congratulated Karel for his finish and better than anything..his 10th place finish!!
Karel said he felt great today. It was tough out there with all of the climbs, in addition to the wind and cold, but he said it was a great day out there.
Way to go Karel! Day #1 is done. Hoping for a crash-free crit race tomorrow in Dade City. I've watched Karel in this crit race about 4 times and each time there is at least 1 crash on the super technical and fast 1K course. 2 years ago, Karel crashed twice....I'm thinking once you crash on a course, you aren't allowed to crash again :)