Thursday, September 07, 2006

crits: love 'em or hate 'em

george carlin once defined a sport as something that involves a ball and a chance of goddam serious injury. bike racing, therefore, is not a sport but we can rally around it anyway because it does involve a chance of goddam serious injury.

2 weeks ago Downers Grove hosted crit nationals. the pre-race talk was all about the perennial sprinter favorites tina pic and laura van gilder. i was pumpin for LVG, not just because she's my friend but because she too is a crusty relic racing wee sprylings half her age. and for the last 4 years, tina's pipped laura on the line to win. i figured there was shit to dish.

it was the LVG and pic show going into the final corner before the finish. then laura was vectoring over her top tube, tina was going over the handlebars in front of jen mcrae, and a no-name ended up national champion because she was in the right place at the right time. LVG was 2nd. again.

to view some great action shots, start here and continue "next"ing.

serious goddam injury. i don't miss crits onebit. i hated them. crits are all about positioning yourself close enough to the front so you can cover breaks and not rubberband around every corner or get caught in the crashes that occur there; while at the same time you don't want to do any extra work at the front. but everyone else wants that perfect position 6 people back, so the whole race is a physical and mental fight to STAY IN ONE PLACE.

the people who are really good at this have certain characteristics. they typically

  • have huge quads and shoulders and pointy, convincing elbows
  • are great bike handlers
  • either come from the track or believe bike racing is a contact sport
  • have very large balls
at the lower providence crit eleventy-billion years ago, i watched the pro 1,2 men set up for the sprint. in the field was my at-the-time boyfriend -- a little guy with a powerful sprint -- and marty nothstein, a trackie from trexlertown with a closet full of national, world and olympic medals. going into the last corner, marty decided that dave's line was better than his own, so before my wondering eyes he delivered a powerful head butt to dave's left shoulder and forced him off his line. i don't remember if marty won, i just remember pissing myself and thanking god my race was done because my shrinking violet spirit had been crushed just watching that.

dave was undeterred though. that guy's such a dick. i know i could have taken him, he ranted. i had to hustle him home before he started a fight with cycling's version of mike tyson.

goddam serious injury.

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