Going to the races

I spent a long day involved in cycling related activity with little time on the bike. I went to watch day 2 of the Edgar Soto Memorial Criterium in downtown Nashville.

I woke up to rain. The weatherpersons said it would clear so I went ahead with my plans. The races were scheduled to start at 12:30 so I planned to do odds and ends around the house, then head to the bike shop for tubes, next go to Two Rivers Park. I would park the truck there and ride the Greenways into town.

As I headed east on I40, I noted the skies were darkening again. But I soldiered forward to the bike shop. I got my tubes (5 for the price of 4), some sportbeans (fruit punch), and a velcro pants clip for commuting.

While inside the rains poured down again. But as they began to slow, I got a fistful of paper towels to dry off the bike and headed toward the park. I found a spot and got out and checked out the sky. Still gloomy but nothing coming down, so I dried off the bike, donned the necessary accoutrements and headed to the Greenway.   The weather cleared for the rest of the day.

I have enjoyed riding those sections of Nashville’s Greenway that I’ve had the chance to ride unlike others I’ve ridden. The walkers/runners I’ve encountered have generally stayed to their side of the road. They are away from everything. I suppose that exposes you to mugging or being in an accident away from everybody and everything. But for me a pleasant place to ride.

My route brought me to the Shelby Street Pedestrian Bridge, then across the Cumberland River, coming out on 3rd Ave., just a block from the race site. I checked out the tents, then scouted out a spot to sit which was just above the start/finish line on 2nd. The course started in the middle of 2nd heading straight uphill, left onto Commerce and more uphill, right onto 3rd and more uphill, then right onto Church and the downhill section, right on 1st and more downhill to Broadway. Then it goes right onto Broadway in front of the Hard Rock Café for a short uphill block back to 2nd and right for an uphill sprint to the finish.

I hit my spot just in time for the Juniors 10-14, I believe a 25 minute race. That age group has such a disparity of sizes and maturity. For one little guy it was painful to watch. But there was also one girl, who though small hung on the lead lap. She wore her kit and number all afternoon and basked in the praise.

Next were the 14-18s, where things start to get serious. Some Cat 4s were scattered in there.

I decided to go over to 1st Ave for the Men’s Cat 5 race to check out the long downhill. That one was blowout. But while sitting at the corner of 1st and Broad, I had a nice chat with a Cat 4 from Birmingham.

I headed back to my original spot in time for the Women’s 3-4. After watching the start and few laps, I headed into a restaurant for a salad and a gigantic glass of iced tea. I was starving and also needed that tea.  So I missed the end of that race.

Kiddie Crit next. Cute.

The Cat 4 race was fun to watch. The field splintered into several smaller groups and single riders for the first half of the race. At one point I yelled out a little encouragement to the guy from B’ham that there was a pair in front of him that he could work with if he caught them. I don’t know if he heard me, but next time around that were forming up and running a paceline which did eventually catch the front group. Good sprint finish here.

Next, the Master’s races. First the 50-60s. We are getting into my age group here so I felt like a major wimp seeing these guys crank it out hard for 30 minutes.

Then the Masters 30-40s. We got to see a world-class performance here from World Masters Time Trial Champion, Michael Olheiser. After he lapped the field, he backed down into the group to conserve himself for the Pro race.

Men’s Cat 3 was next. I missed a lot of this one as I needed some time out of the sun and in the Ladies.

Women’s Cat 1-2 had a small field. I was disappointed in the size of the field but enjoyed the race.

Finally time for the Men’s Pro/Cat 1-2 race. By then it was dark so it was hard to read jerseys, but several of the big southern teams had racers here. It was a 90 minute race. Fairly early there was a 4-man break. They seemed to keep stretching out the lead with every lap until they were up by 30 seconds or so. We were on the corner of 2nd and Commerce and they would turn that corner before the peloton came off of Broad. But with about 20 minutes left, things started to change. The field formed up and started working. Every lap seemed to cut off a second. With about 5 laps to go, Olheiser took the front of the group and started pulling. The breakaway was swallowed up in lap 2 to go. So then we readied for a sprint finish. As they made the turn off of Broad onto 2nd, you could see Olheiser, but he had no help. A train had formed and roared by him. I think it might have been Jittery Joe’s, but it was dark and I didn’t have glasses. It was certainly red jerseys. Very good finish.

I’ll be posting pics in my Flickr account. You’ll have to excuse the quality. The camera I carry on my bike isn’t great, especially on fast movement after dark. And that darn delay that digital cameras have is just annoying.

I’ll do a separate post on my strange ride home later.

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~ by susancyclist on June 15, 2008.

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