It would be nice to be writing that I had an awesome performance at the Exeter Crit Pro123 last night but I can't. My legs weren't near good enough.
Exeter is short, only 1 hour, so it's pretty fast and it surges more than it is steady; but even with this it isn't real difficult to stay in the front quarter of the race. It's mentally taxing though because it's a technical course (in my view) and because there are a lot of young gunners that race it w/eager abandon, so you have to keep your wits about you at all times. But at the end of the day Exeter is a good time and place for New England riders to have a blast racing together on a weekday after work in front of family and friends.
The collective rider makeup is pretty interesting too. Kind of like a giant training crit with a lot more Pageantry and Adrenalin. Most of the young guys are there in quest of their first or most notable 'breakout' ride, (yeah, I'm talking to you Jesse Keough 2nd & Manny Goguen 5th) which is palpable and cool to observe if you care to look for it. There are also a boat load of strong experienced guys and Masters guys riding it too. A few really good ones, like Adam Myerson and Mark McCormack, are there to try and scalp the win but most
of the Mstrs just float in the middle battling it out and
taking risks for other reasons...like fun and bragging rights, I recon? (*Race report/ Adam's win & Mark's 7th & 40+ win)
All of this makes for an interesting race. The earmark for me this year was that I sensed there were a lot of guys wanting to a top result much more than I did. Part of this is rationalization. It's easy to tell yourself 'you don't want it', if you don't have it within you to take it. Truth hurts. Lol!
On the bell lap I was in good position (top two or three on the back stretch) but my legs weren't responding well as we barreled toward the puddled turn three. This corner had been wet & super dicey all race long. I figured there would be a crash there on the last lap and wanted to be top five beforehand. But as we got closer I was passed by a dozen and a half guys which blew my hopes. Now I was in twentieth(?) getting squeezed back in the converging spear tip several hundred feet before the corner. At that point I didn't feel good about my chances or safety so I decide to back out and watch as everyone else dove into that turn. 10-15 seconds later there was a crash; as anticipated. I shook my head in flurry of 'I told you so' self rhetoric & affirmation of my decision. Then I wheeled a U-turn on the course and headed straight to my car without looking back.
In retrospect, I suppose I could have dug crazy deep, taken my chances and just raced the thing out. However, I've written about the high correlation between fatigue and crashing in the
past. I knew I was still too tired from the 124 mile Rapha Gentleman's Race on Sunday and the risk/reward ratio in this situation just wasn't there for
me. In truth, the risk/reward ratio in twisty short crits is there less and less for me these days but I reckon it's all just part of the life process and privilege of bike racing.
Peace and roll strong.