So originally, the plan for today involved going kayaking on Town Lake with Miranda, Mike, and Polaris. So, I hopped on Gertie and headed downtown to meet them at the Rowing Dock. About halfway there, I called Athena at a red light telling her that I might be a few minutes late. However, she informed me that the threat of thunderstorms had effectively canceled kayaking. Since I was already out and about, I decided to take Gertie for a little spin. Luckily, my route wandered through downtown, and I stumbled upon the 2007 Downtown Austin Crit. The course is a short (~1 km) track, usually on blocked-off city streets. There's some strategy involved, like drafting and pacing yourself. I'm still not exactly sure how I feel about Crit racing. Crit racing is kinda like NASCAR, but for road bikes. As much as I dislike NASCAR, after watching a few crit races, I can see how it could be kinda cool. But still... you're just driving! Sitting on your ass and making a left turn every once in a while with a bunch of guys who, to borrow a line from a Will Ferrell movie "just wanna go fast!" is not a sport. I guess the saving grace for crit racing is that the strategy actually depends on your endurance and ability to handle a bike, not how well you can manage your pit stops. Now if I'm offending you because you like NASCAR, I'm sorry, but it's just not for me.
Anyway, a few highlights:
- In the first race I watched, there were two riders who broke off from the peleton and tried to make a break for it. They led for ~20 minutes, but then the peleton caught up to them. Right as the peleton caught up to the leaders, one dude turned on the afterburners and rocketed out to an impressive lead. At one point, he was 20 seconds ahead of the pack. The peleton let him go for a while, but eventually a few people broke off and caught up to him. One of the riders who caught up to him was from his team, so they were able to fend off the other guy and sprint the last lap for the win.
- The last race was the men's professional race. It was pretty intense... For the first half of the race, no one was able to get a very commanding breakaway, as the peleton was moving at a pretty blistering pace. After half-way, three guys broke away and opened up a 15 second lead, and maintained it pretty much the rest of the race. However, the peleton was able to stay close enough for the sprinters to reel them in at the end. During the last lap, one sprinter was able to make up the 15 seconds and leave them in the dust. I think they were just too worn out from keeping out in front of the peleton.
I definitely enjoyed watching the races. Who knows... maybe it'll be something else I can get into.