I was excited to hear the announcement that the first stop of the 2012 USA Crits Championship Series would be Delray Beach, Florida. The USA Crits Championship Series brings some of the nations best cyclist to the state of Florida to compete in a high pace crit race around the streets of downtown Delray Beach, Florida.
Since I will be getting married in Delray next September, Rachel and I decided to make it a weekend of wedding planning and cycling racing. The first event was the Doghouse Twilight Grid Qualifiers on Friday night where the pros completed against each other on a 3k time trial on a CompuTrainer to determine the top 8 starting positions for the Saturday evening pro race.
The first race was the top 8 amateur riders competing against each other for bragging rights and money. For amateurs, these guys had some power and were able to keep up that power for over 8 minutes. They had some crazy watts outputs.
Next was the pro finals. The pros performed the Computrainer course during the day and the top 8 men competed in the finals to determine the staring grid for Saturday night’s pro race. The intensity and the atmosphere was heating up as they warmed up, luckily the event had a beer garden to keep cool. The watts outputs were insane for the pro’s with their average power output of 450 watts. Crazy.
During the day on Saturday was the amateur races to qualify for the evening’s amateur final. Since I am still racing as a Cat 5, I was unable to qualify for the amateur final race. I was very tempted to upgrade to Cat 4 just to have a chance to qualify, but felt like I needed a couple of more races with better results before I upgraded.
The races were located a few miles from downtown Delray around a couple of office buildings. The course was wide open and had four easy corners.
The race was a criterium where we raced around the course for 35 minutes. The race tempo was not as fast as normal because nobody wanted to be out in front driving up the pace.
I was getting annoyed by the amount of braking going into the corners. With the corners wide open, we should not have been constantly braking so hard going into the corners. There were a couple of attacks, including my solo breakaway attempt that caused the pace to pick up at time. With about 3 laps to go, a guy was able to solo breakaway and hold off the field for the rest of the race.
I was able to sprint for a close photo finish for 6th place. Looking at my Garmin, the pace ended up averaging 24 mph for the 35 minutes. Another top ten finish this year and if it was not for my crash at the Deleon Springs road race, all my finishes would have been in the top 10. `
Later that night, we headed to downtown Delray Beach to watch the amateur and pro races. We walked around the inside of the 1 kilometer long course once the amateur men started the race. We stopped by the expo and tried to get a bunch of free stuff. The race was drawing attention from non cycling fans like the cops that were playing with their radar guns, clocking the cyclist as they went past.
We found some people I knew at turn 3 and set up camp for the rest of the race. Turn 3 was were all the action happened at. The course narrowed coming out of turn 3 and the riders were coming very close to hitting the barriers.
There was a massive pile up that split the amateur race in half. I was initially disappointed by the crowd turn out for the race; but once the pros started to race, the streets lining the course started to get packed.
The pro race was exciting to watch. They flew around the 1 kilometer course 80 times. There were a couple of initial attacks that did not last, but there was a three man breakaway that was able to lap the whole field. Team Mountain Khakis/SmartStop had a guy in the breakaway and used great team race tactics to slow down the peleton. They were sitting on the front controlling the pace of the peleton and they sat on the wheel of anyone trying to chase down the breakaway.
We headed to the finish line to watch the sprint finish. The Mountain Khakis/Smartstop went to the front and pushed the pace for their rider. The last few laps, they were flying around the course. They had a great lead out for their teammate that was in the breakaway, and he ended up winning the race. I ended up having a blast during the whole Delray Beach Twilight Festival. It was great having top USA cyclist race in Florida and I look forward to this race next year. Maybe next year I will be in the amateur finals.