- Jul 5, 2005
- A Crit By Any Other Name…
Just got back from the USA Cycling Masters National Criterium Championships in Deer Park, Utah. The trip part was great - the area around Salt Lake City is beautiful.
Friday night some team mates and I drove up to Deer Park to pick up our reg packets. That’s when we saw the new "crit" course. Wasn’t quite what we’d hoped to find. A short, hilly course at over 7000 feet spells trouble for a good number of us big dudes who live for the bunch sprints.
Come race day our concerns were confirmed. We dropped like flies. I had somehow convinced myself that I’d be able to do well on the short course with its ups & downs, but about three laps into the race it became pretty clear that while I may have come with the ‘eye of the tiger’ I’d left the lungs and legs of the tiger somewhere else. My thoughts turned quickly from the lure of the stars and stripes jersey to the flat, technical, downtown crit in Davis, CA the following Monday. On lap five or six there was a spill on the hill that opened a gap and - poof - I was gone. Exposed as the pathetically one-dimensional flatlander that I am.
Oh well, that’s racing. I was able to make my way to the announcers’ booth and join Dave Towle and Larry Longo for a little microphone time. As we watched the truly fit racers who managed to stay in the race we all poked fun at the fact that I was way out of my element racing on such a course. Sadly, there were a lot of guys who were out of their element on this particular course. At one point, a rider rolled by and muttered unhappily, "This is not a crit!" He didn’t have to tell me - I was well aware that it wasn’t the type of crit I’m familiar with.
What concerns me is that I’m already hearing grumblings from riders who don’t plan on going back to the Masters National Criterium Championships next year. The consensus among many is that the course wasn’t quite a crit in ’04 and it just went further off track in ’05. For many of the crit racers, it’s easy enough to find a hard road race nearby to get spit out the back of - no need spending the cash to travel to Utah.
USA Cycling does a wonderful job putting on the races in Utah . I’ve been thoroughly impressed with the event each time I’ve attended. But in ’04 the crit fields were noticeably bigger than they were this season, and in ’06 I’d bet that the crit fields shrink even smaller unless there’s a significant course change. Something’s not quite right when 37 guys line up to compete for a Masters National Criterium Championship.
Hopefully in ’06 USA Cycling can find an interesting course in Salt Lake City - something not too hilly (as in pancake flat) that is raced like the crits so many of us know and love. In ’06 I hope to be bumping elbows in the bunch sprint instead of prematurely bumping elbows with Dave and Larry in the announcers’ booth.
- Posted by:
- Le Sensation American