After a poor showing at pretty much all of the races I had participated in within Israel this year, I was determined to have one good race before I went back to the states, so since my return to Israel from my Tour de France trip I actually had been riding a bit and getting back into some level of fitness.
Having looked at the season calender, I realized that there was just one race left before I left Israel on August 22; low and behold it was a lovely American styled criterium, in a parking lot around a soccer stadium, and boy was I excited. It even had a wicked chicane!
I registered for the Elite race online, got my ride sorted out and come Friday at 10:30am I was freaking ecstatic to have a number on my back, and riding circles in a parking lot with 15 other dudes who thought it be fun to ride an 800m lap for 90 minutes in 93 F (33C) heat, blazing sun and high humidity.
(Hanging out early, photo: Eyal Dolin)
After the roll out it became very clear that the race was going to be controlled by TACC, as they had 10 of the 20 starters in the race. As a result, I was coaxed into working with two guys from VCI to try and keep TACC under control. Which lasted for the first 30 minutes or so, when I was actually on the front, trying to work and keep those yokels under control.
At one point, when I TACC guy jumped, I charged tout-suite to get on his wheel, with the intention of keeping the group together. However, this plan quickly backfired, as when I went, I brought another TACC guy with me, and this happened into the chicane, and all of a sudden I found myself, somewhere I truly do not belong, a break-away.
(Tacked on to the back of a break, photo: Eyal Dolin)
Thankfully, the break didn't last more than a few laps, and I went to the back of the bunch trying to recover from the effort. At which point, one of the individual guys in the race was like, we need to work together to keep TACC under control, to which I replied, in my 8-year old level Hebrew, "I understand, but I cannot work right now, I am tired." So, after a few laps of recovery, I made my way back to the front, to hopefully keep it all together.
(Up front, trying to keep things under control, photo: Eyal Dolin)
But, in a 90 minute crit, with 10 guys from one team constantly attacking, you can only shut down so many breaks, right? And after a solid 50 minutes of this nonsense, I finally just got cooked, slid to the back of the bunch, and the next thing I knew there was a break of 3 TACC guys up the road, the field strung out, and out the back I went. But, this being a crit, I tried to catch back up for 1 lap, until I just decided to coast until I got lapped.
(Chasing for a little, before I decided to coast, photo: Eyal Dolin)
It took about 4-5 laps for the bunch to lap me, and while I was waiting to get lapped, I was joined by Yarin, who had suffered a similar fate. We coasted, had a nice chat, and when we did get lapped, for the second time, we decided to jump back in the race.
(Yarin and I having a chat while waiting to be lapped, photo: Eyal Dolin)
When we did jump back in the race, the break had lapped the field, and after a few laps of group togetherness, one of the break-away guys jumped again, and he went on to lap the field, putting him 2 laps ahead. I considered joining him on this escapade when he jumped, to try and make my way back onto the lap of the bunch, but then decided against it, as I was frying in the heat.
(Concentrating after rejoining the bunch, photo: Eyal Dolin)
So, I hung out in the back for the last 20 minutes of the race, waited for the end, didn't even bother sprinting, and some how wound up with 8th place in elite. Neat.
("Pain" face during the final sprint, photo: Eyal Dolin)
The next day, I went out for a morning ride with some of VCI crew in the mountains near Jerusalem, not much of a story, but I just wanted to share that the views were spectacular, the climbs were hard, the heat was horrible and it was great fun. Below is the map.