Friday, March 30, 2012

Winter Garden Criterium

The Winter Garden cycling festival kicked off a weekend full of cycling rides and races.  The festival took place around downtown Winter Garden with the criterium race taken place on the brick roads of Winter Garden main street. 

engagement photo

The day started off early with Rachel and I taking our engagement photos by the Cocoa Beach pier where I proposed to her.  Above is a preview of some of the awesome photos Cat took of us.  I was nervous before the photo shoot, but she was outstanding and took some great photos of Rachel and I.  After brunch, we headed over to Winter Garden to race in the Winter Garden Criterium.  There was a ton of activities going on in downtown Winter Garden.  There was a farmers market, charity bike ride, and the winter garden criterium.  A nice change of scenery compared to the typical races that occur in the middle of nowhere in an undeveloped neighborhood. 

My race did not start until almost 2pm and the temperature outside was heating up.  I found the only shaded spot in the parking lot to warm up on my trainer.  It just happened to be right next to the dumpster.  I was covered in sweat within a few minutes. 

Bike Trainer 
The criterium course was one mile long and half the course was on brick paved roads.  The corners were also in tough shape with some holes in the middle of the turns.  I knew I needed to stay towards the front to make it through the tough sections safe.  The crit race was 40 minutes long. 

Winter Garden crit start

I position myself toward the front before the start and it was good since I under estimated how rough the bricks were.  My bike was shaking so much, my water bottle cage shook loose. 

winter garden crit brick  
I stayed towards the front and even attempted to try a breakaway.  I took a couple pulls on the front to keep the pace up. 

Winter Garden Lead pack

The strategy was to keep the pace up and drop as many people off the back as we can.  

Winter Garden Crit

The strategy worked but it almost backed fired on me when I drifted towards the back to rest some and did not realize the last person passed me.  I looked back and there was nobody behind me and I had to chase down the group. 

Winter Garden Cat 5 pack
There were only 11 riders left in the lead pack out of the 21 riders that started the race.  Riding on the bricks was tough and felt like I was going up hill the whole time.  After the race, I found out we were going up hill during the stretch of brick.  Just had to hammer it every lap to get through that section.     

Winter Garden Cat 5 peleton
Since the pack was small, I stayed towards the back and tried to recover for the final sprint. 

winter garden crit crash  
With one lap to go, the pace started to pick up because someone attacked.  I tried to pass someone on the outside going into turn two, when there was almost a crash in front of me.  A rider a few spots up was push wide and had to lockup the brakes to avoid going over the curb.  I had to slam on the breaks to avoid ramming into the back of him.  My tires slid up against the curb and I lost all my momentum.  I used most of my remaining energy to catch back up and was only able to out sprint one person.

winter garden sprint finish

I ended up getting 10th place overall in my Cat 5 race.  I was happy with the result of another top 10 finish, but wished I better position going into the last couple of laps.  The average speed for the race was 24 mph, but felt higher because of the bricks.  Click here to check out my GPS data from the race.

Iron Moose                 

After the race, I made sure to rehydrate and recover for the hilly Race of the West 42 mile long road race the next morning. We walked around the various tents around Winter Garden and watched some of the remaining races.

Have you every tried to race or ride a bike on a brick road?