I did a criterium on Sunday...that is a short, fast twisty road course. This one was basically around an office park near Napa.
The first race of the year is always a crapshoot. Sure, I know that I have good general fitness because I have been riding a lot, but race fitness is very different. Plus, you have the chaos of a rusty pack jostling for space and doing stupid things.
I raced in the Category 4 (idiots) and Masters Category 4/5 (old idiots). I prefer to race in the masters groups (35+), because these are guys with families and jobs, and they generally are far more sensible than what you get in the open Cat 4 races.
Sure enough, there were 3 crashes in the Cat 4 race, which was first. I got a great start and was in the first 10 riders when the first crash happened on only our second lap of about 12. Somebody ahead of me overcooked it in a corner and took out a couple of other riders. Looked like someone broke their collarbone.
Towards the end of the race, I just went to the front and led the group around. Not the way to win a race, but the best way to avoid crashing as things get tense in the last laps. With one lap to go I could not hold on anymore and finished towards the back. Defeated, but upright.
The masters race was more fun. Lots of road jewelry for this one. It seemed like I was the only one without deep carbon wheels. Everyone was better behaved and there were no crashes. I tried to get away off the front at the end, but probably left it for too late in the race. So, like the earlier race, I led the group around for 2 laps, but hung on to sprint it out for the finish on the final lap. I finished around 15th. The lung I coughed up finished just behind me.