It’s done, and it was fun. Not everything in the build up to the race was easy, but the team stuck together and pulled off a really professional first time crit.
It’s strange how things come together. One day out of the blue Ernesto contacted from Portland and wanted to know if I could help him put a race on in Portland. We went back and forth via email for a few months without too much worry, and then suddenly it was a month away, and stress levels were rising. The next thing I knew I was in Portland and people were arriving for our event.
Luckily for us we had the help of Adam and OBRA (Oregon Bike Racing Association). Adam was keen to get OBRA on board when initially I was wary of sanctioning a fixed gear crit after hearing too many negatives about USAC. Fortunately OBRA is not USAC and they actually made our lives so much easier.
Where most other crits just try to get the race to happen we had a whole weekend of events planned. Velodrome session, bike show, alleycat, and parties. By the time Friday came around we were all swamped with work and trying to juggle that, attending events, and hanging out with friends who had made the trip.
Everything went off without a hitch, including the main event, which for a first time crit, and considering how many variables there are on race day, is something we can be proud of. I’d like to thank Adam and Ernesto again for committing so many hours to the race. Thanks also to Amy Danger and the volunteers who helped build and marshal the course, take care of registration, bike check, and everything in between.
Turnout for the race was pretty low from Portland and the North West, which maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised about, but I’d never been to that part of the world before. Thanks to L.A. riders who came out in force, and the others who traveled from places like Chicago, Vegas, Texas, Mexico, and more, who essentially saved the race. I really appreciate Don Ward’s work in L.A. that helped build up a scene so strong that local racers now jump at the opportunity to race whenever and wherever they can.
Hopefully, if there is a next time, the local crew will have seen that it’s not some crazy blood sport, and that it’s actually a really good time. You can attend the events and parties, but if you’re not in the big show you’ll never really get what it’s all about.
The women’s field was particularily small, and midway through the race it looked like they were just waiting around for the final sprint. Kim Lucie had done a fair amount of work on the front early on and had to keep the pace moving. When she had had enough the pace really dropped off.
Then Ana Puga, who made the trip from Mexico, lit things up. She and had gotten off to a bad start and spent the first few laps chasing back. I though she might miss out on catching up at all, and certainly didn’t expect her to be off the front in the last third of the race.
Kim and Nissy Cobb had to work to catch back up before the final lap which came down to a sprint. Everyone expected Nissy, a track sprinter, to take the win, but it was Kim Lucie who came flying through just ahead at a insane pace. Ana paid the price for her efforts though she still finished third, for the crowd it was well worth it.
The men’s field was a lot more sizeable on the grid where the individual time trial qualifying format from earlier had ranked them. Race favourite Addison Zawada was right at the back after suffering a mechanical at the start of his qualifying lap.
Right from the gun Chris Rabadi shot to the front and stayed there until the final hairpin where he let Chas through in a move they had worked out before the race to split the first lap prime. Chas picked up the money easily.
From then on it was a race of attrition on the technical circuit. If you were at the back the concertina effect through the three 180 degree corners you had to sprint extra hard out of each one. Rabadi kept throwing in attacks, forcing the front runners to constantly chase, and riders further back to be shelled. Eventually there was only a quarter of the field left, and despite Rabadi’s attacks it was all together for the final laps.
The field slowed just after the line signalling the last lap. This is where Zawada, who had made his way quickly through the field at tthe start of the race, made his move. He attacked into the first hairpin, almost crashing in it, but stayed upright and had the lead. Ceasar Valenzuela, who had been sitting fairly deep in the pack, was sharp to the move and the first to follow. Joquin Najar, who’s on board footage is below, went through the first turn behind Valenzuela.
No one could match Zawada, and the first three’s position did not change all the way to the line. State Bicycle team taking first in the men’s and women’s race. Aventon with second in the women’s and third in the men’s. L.A.’s current top rider slotting in second on the men’s podium. Mexico City’s best known female rider third.
The video is good to watch if you’re a racer, being a full replay, but probably too long for the casual viewer. I cut out as much wind noise as possibles so we can hear Joaquin talking during the race, you can hear him telling Addison “nice save” when he almost crashes on the last lap. This is when you’re supposed to be out of breath, Joaquin!
The tracking blip on the map in the top right malfunctions about three times for a short time, but it’s nothing major. Trying to use GPS data and the software available for editing is a massive pain in the ass. Hopefully that changes soon, but I’m not holding my breath.