This past weekend’s Professional Criterium National Championships highlighted a slew of firsts. To begin, it was my first time competing in a national championship. My first race contended with teammates as an official member of FCS|Zngine. The first race on a sweet new CAAD 10 and pair of iRT wheels, that FCS graciously shipped to me just in time for Nationals. As part of the new set up, it was my first time racing with a SRAM group set and standard crank in over a year. I was also pleased to have a positive experience flying with the Gavilán BFF for the very first time. With the introduction of so much change, I anticipated starting at the base of a learning curve that might peak several races in the future. Despite just embarking on this learning experience, the base was solid enough to achieve 6th place; a result much better than I could have hoped for.
We entered the race as a team of four, consisting of Rachel Byus, Amy McGuire, Anna Sanders and myself. With the encouragement of teammates, I felt more confident and capable of overcoming challenges that have plagued my performances throughout the season. I also surprised myself with a pull on the final lap that shortly preceded placing 4th in the field sprint. Had you asked me if it were possible to pull and perform well in a field sprint moments later, I would have been inclined to say no. While expending a match at that moment was critical to positioning for the sprint, I can only imagine the possible outcome had I conserved more energy for the finale. Possibilities I am eager to apply at next year’s Pro Crit Nationals.
The Nationals’ course was characterized by wide smooth roads organized in a figure-eight. Changes in elevation included mild descents between turns 3 and 4 as well as between turns 6 and 7. A slight punchy hill began at turn 4 and crested by turn 5. While a mild incline that began at turn 7 extended all the way to the finish line. The finishing straight was just over 200 meters, yet felt much longer given the slight rise. Course features invited an aggressive race riddled by attacks, yet the elements conspired to damper this outcome. The result was a slick course with even more slippery painted surfaces. It was a recipe for a breakaway, as the field could not navigate through the wet with great speed. Few would have anticipated that an early break would stick in a criterium at least one half hour longer than any other on the national calendar. The 1.5hr duration had me questioning if I should have contended more road races this season to build a greater endurance base. Yet who could complain about putting out the extra effort for a race with prize pool equality.
Beyond The Bike
One of the more fascinating aspects of racing across the nation is the cultural experience. Unbeknownst to me, High Point, NC is often referred to as the “Furniture Capital of the World.” I would estimate that 80% of the businesses observed on our warm-up were furniture stores. High Point’s claim to fame culminates with this road-side oddity…
The World’s Largest Chest of Drawers accented by a pair of dangling socks to symbolize the area’s strong textile and furniture industry. As a point of irony, the chest’s interior once served as the Bureau of Information.
If you happen to stop for a bite to eat wile in High Point, make it the Penny Path Café & Crepe Shop. The menu offers both sweet and savory crepe combinations. I could not help myself but to try one of each. We chatted with the incredibly friendly shop owner, Miro Burzov. Miro told us all about his German heritage and experience as a new business owner. The shop is small yet ornate, featuring a literal path of pennies, café themed art along the bar, faux paint accents, tin ceiling panels, and unique wood tables. The morning of our first visit we were treated to live music and great conversation with fellow cyclist patrons. I am sure there is more to explore in and around High Point when one is in town for more than 33hrs.