My First Criterium

5AM rolled around quickly this morning, but who could sleep with my first criterium just 3 hours away!  That’s right, I was headed to Bethel CT to watch Glen compete in his second crit.  (You actually thought for a moment that I was going to do this?)

It was a pretty day. Pretty darn cold that is, with freezing temps and of course, wind.  I watched all the Category 5 riders complete the mandatory training session and take their warm up laps while I fumbled around mounting my cheap point-n-shoot camera on a what my son tells me is a very expensive tripod.  That tripod must be impressive because a nice man asked me if my photos would be for sale. I chuckled of course, and we had a nice chat. Turns out he and his 15 yr. old son ride for Pawling. His son was in the Cat 5 and he was riding in Cat 4.  Anyway,  with my position secured on the outside of the first turn, I was ready to capture the action as riders crowned the hill with every lap. Well actually, I was ready, but the camera required two reboots in the form of popping the battery. (Now I know why Kodak isn’t making cameras anymore.) I knew better than to attempt any single shots, so my plan was to let the video run until the race was over or the battery quit, whichever came first. The good news is, I got the first 10 laps. Unfortunately, the last 5 laps were only recorded in my head, and we all know that is only temporary storage.  Once I figure out how to edit the video, I’ll share that.

Toronto Criterium

Toronto Criterium (Photo credit: hyfen)

Actually, a criterium is pretty impressive. In Cat 5 they do 15 laps around a closed road course that is just shy of 1 mile.  The start at Bethel is uphill, (isn’t that just mean?) and goes immediately into the first turn. So the start is not exactly fast, though they were all cranking faster than I can do on the flats, but once they get moving you can see the speed build with each lap and watch the pack of riders – actually called a peloton – shape shift like a swarm of bees. It just amazes me how these cyclists can ride wheel to wheel and practice a technique called bumping – without wiping out.  At this level, they’re riding between 20- 25 mph. You’ll see 30-35mph in higher categories! Crazy!  And Glen, despite covering 35 miles of nonstop hills in New Jersey yesterday, beat last Sunday’s performance! Woot woot!

I’m looking forward to the rest of the series… on hopefully warmer days.  And who knows.  Maybe you’ll find me at a criterium one weekend, doing more than just taking pictures. 🙂

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One response

  1. Criteriums are exciting races, lots of speed, strategy and just plan all-out riding. This was my 2nd race and I’m hooked. You learn how to ride the pace line inches away from the rear wheel of the bike in front of you, drafting to save energy and help the entire group go faster, pushing the pace, attacking the hills, working for the right position and sprinting to the finish! Fast, furious and fun!

    Thanks to the Bethel Spring Series organizers for holding clinics to teach new riders how to race. That’s a great service they are doing for all the cat-5 riders. 🙂

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