When we arrived in Tampa, it was raining, but luckily the rain stop before my race. The course dried off some but there were still some wet spots on the course. Made for some crazy racing. Because of the popularity of the event, the field was filled with 44 riders and I wanted to start near the front to stay out of trouble.
For the first time ever, a USA cycling official questioned my helmet cam. Loved the sunglasses the official was wearing. It is legal for me to wear the helmet cam during the race. It’s a disadvantage to me because of the extra drag caused by having the camera on top of my helmet.
The course was very tight and had a section of brick road like last weekend’s Winter Garden Criterium. The bricks were not as rough as last weekends race, but the section was going up hill and the exit turn was very dangerous.
I kept towards the front to stay out of trouble and not have to deal with the slinky effect of riding in the back. After the first few laps, the field was breaking up into several groups.
The front pack kept getting smaller and we started to pass lapped riders left and right. I was sitting in the second spot when they rang the bell for a $25 prime on the next lap. The guy on the front tried to take off but I was able to sit on his wheel the whole lap until I tried to out sprint him for the $25.
I was able to out sprint him, but with only 10 feet before the line, two guys passed me to take the prize away.
During that lap, there was a serious crash coming out of turn 3 that sent a rider to the hospital. I heard the crash behind me and it sounded horrible.
After the prime sprint, there was only about 12 people left in the lead pack. Half way through the race, I ended up dropping my water bottle. The pace started to calm down, but there were still crashes happening left and right. I narrowly missed a crash in the video below and I heard another load crash that someone collided with the metal barrier.
With about three laps to go, someone attacked on the brick backstretch that caused the group to chase hard after him. Going into turn 3, I closed rapidly on the rider in front of me and ended up crashing into the metal barricade to avoid ramming into the back of him. The video bellow captured the whole crash.
Luckily, I was not seriously hurt because my bike took most of the force of the crash. I was able to get right back up and finish the last two laps. I did not realize it until after I finished the race, but my back brakes were rubbing.
Even after the crash, I still finished the race in 9th place. Because of the fast pace and the tight course, only 10 out of the 42 people that started the race finished on the lead lap. I was disappointed that I crashed and wished I could have tried to out sprint everyone at the end for the win, but I was happy with another top 10 finish. The whole experience of racing downtown was amazing and the large crowds cheering everyone on was great. A special thanks to Tom Couture for taking a ton of excellent photos of the race.
After the race, we went back to the hotel to shower and assess the damage more. The side of my bike and shoe were all scraped up from the crash. I only had a cut on my shin and some scrapes on the back of my leg.
After a quick shower, we headed back to watch the end of the amateur finals and grabbed some dinner from the food trucks
After the amateur finals, the pros lined up for their race.
Some of the best USA cycling teams showed up to race around downtown Tampa.
The crowds to watch the race showed up too. The atmosphere around the course was great and got better after drinking a couple of excellent Cigar City Brewing beers. The pro race was exciting to watch. They flew around the course at extremely fast speeds.
There was a breakaway of two riders that were able to get away from the field early. One of the riders that was on the breakaway is on the very strong United Health Care pro cycling team. Once the two riders got away, team tactics started to play, and they were able to lap the field quickly.
The team was able to control the front of the field so nobody else could get away. There was a small breakaway of four riders but, they just sat off the front of the field the rest of the race. The race was supposed to last 80 minutes plus 3 laps, but for some reason, they ended the race after only 60 minutes.
After the race, we headed over to Taco Bus for some late night food. I heard a ton of great stories about Taco Bus, and they did not let us down. Their burrito was the prefect fix to crave my drunk munchies. The race was still exciting to watch and the whole day full of events turned out awesome. It was great having top USA cyclists race in Florida again and I look forward to this race next year. Maybe next year I will be in the amateur finals.
What is your favorite food after a late night out?