REDLANDS BICYCLE CLASSIC 2018 DAY 3 – DOWNTOWN LONG CRITERIUM COURSEBrett Richards
Criterium style racing holds a special place in my heart, especially when it is in my hometown of Redlands California. Non bike racers consider criterium racing the NASCAR of bike racing. This is because we complete many laps and sometimes the courses only have four turns. However, we do often turn right and most courses do have more than four turns.
This criterium course in Redlands is most times called the long course and has been ran the same for many years. It has 9 turns pretty much all a little different from one another. This course is 1 mile long and relatively flat which aids to the competition. Weather you consider yourself a sprinter or a climber you can compete together on a course like this. The main skill you need to have here is bike handling and having comfort in a group all going through a turn at the same time. That part is the closest comparison to NASCAR that I can think of.
The race started fast as usual with a couple competitors going up the road in a breakaway for five sixths of the race. One of the racers was not in my class so I was not concerned about him but the other was. Slowly I began to see a racer come into my view and shortly after that I noticed that it was the one in my class that I needed to not just catch but to pass to take the win. Shortly after the catch I stayed behind him utilizing the draft to catch my breath and recover as much as possible. When there was only one lap to go I pulled out from behind him and out of the draft started to power forward as quick as I could to not let him accelerate and then take advantage of my draft. I take a look in my mirror and I had cleared him. There was a gap and I was pulling away. But it’s not over yet. No, I had one more lap to run at full gas so none of my competitors could catch up. With my eyes glued to my mirror while concentrating on keeping that pressure on my pedals I crossed the finish line in first place. At the podium I started to think that I could possibly win this race again and that is where the butter flies started. One more race to go in the Redlands Bicycle Classic and I have a huge target on my back.