Yuma - Bike racing in hell

Last weekend I went to Yuma , AZ. Race is called the North End Classic. Race consisted of a criterium and a Road Race. The fields were small but large enough to make it very interesting.

Ok, on to the criterium. 30 guys are lined up at the start of the race. This course is a 10 corner - 1 mile city course. Usually a 6-corner criterium is enough to cause havoc in the the peloton, so can you imagine a 10-corner course with a hill…. meaning there is a downhill part to the course too.

So off we go and the frst 3 laps were really fast. guys are diving into the corners at speeds over 30mph and I am thinking that this might result in an ambulance trip at the end of the day - at least for someone. Well, the race keeps going and because we only had 30 guys in the race it got pretty strung out, so the race was actually pretty safe. I had to teammates in the race. One is a climber and one is a sprinter. So we were looking to set the sprinter up.

After 20 or so minutes the pace settled with the occasional attacks and counters and as people would try to get into moves they quickly realized that they would cost them. Every attack was countered resulting in furious chases by the now trailing attackers. Some made it back, some did not.

With about 20 minutes to go in the hour long race I launch an attack and one guy comes with me. I burry it in the corners and in the straightaway the guy comes around me, so now I know we have a commitment to the break. I see then that another guy had joined us and now I thinking that this might actually work. Well, next corner this guy comes out of it so fast, he loses his front wheel and crashes, the third guy has no time to react and t-bones the guy on the pavement, I look back and all I can see is the third guy face-planting at 30+ mph. It seemed like I was watching it in slo-mow… very disturbing.

Well of we go and surprisingly the face-plant guy returns to finish the race. Apparently he did not get too hurt, it just looked really bad.

2 laps to go and I hit the front to try to set up my teammate, I take it around for about 1.25 laps and just go super nova on myself. I explode, completely cracked, so my other teammate continues to pull. He does not get very far either. Our sprinter decides that it is time to take manners into his own hands. He goes with 3/4 lap to go and ends up winning the field sprint. 2 guys were in a break up the road. tactical mistake on our part.

So the next day we are sitting in 3rd on the GC (general classification).

My teammate ad I are now going to protect out GC guy. The road race is supposed to be 60 miles long, but for some reason or another they have miscalculated the distance. So much so that earlier races actually took a break form racing to go get water at 7-11. UNREAL.

So our race start and i am feeling like a million bucks - courtesy of all my special cycling drinks. I decide to create some havoc and in the cross wind I put everyone to work. I hit is hard and leave enough space for only my teammates to draft of of me and the rest of the group starts to splinter.

For the first 20 miles I probably did this 6-7 times. Go to the front, pin the odometer at 30mph and bring everyone to the gutter. Well, after 40 minutes of that half the field was gone and we were still 3 strong.

At the end of the lap I set my sprinter guy for bonus points. On the second lap a huge attack goes up the road and we let the guy go. With 60 miles TO GO it would be crazy for him to go so soon. I forgot to mention but the gusts of winds were getting close to 50mph at this point.

With a separation in the group and me getting caught in the chasing group with the race leader I thought I would be safe and would have to do no more work. Well, payback is a bitch. The guy nails it and tae everyone into the curb and after 10 minutes of 32mph efforts I crack and crack pretty good. The group has a gap and they keep chasing while me and this other guy try to catch back on.

After 6 miles we are back, but the race leader does it again ad by then i am done. I get dropped with about 45 miles to go.

I come across the finish line and I still have 1 more lap to go. As I make my way through the finish line I need to make sure that they see me. There was so much dust and sand n the air, I was actually scared of getting hit by a car, I could not see anything. I decide to finish the race by myself. I eat everything I have in my pockets, which was 4 bars, 1 banana and drink 2 bottles of water..all at once. I know I had 30 miles to go and at points I was going 9 mph into the wind. It was brutal.

Thank fully I had my shuffle with me and that kept me company as I was the only person on the road. I heard “The Final Countdown” 4 times in a row, which was pretty good for the mind. I was starting to get delirious and i had blood all over my gloves and sleeves from all the nose bleeds.

The food energy kicks in and I set a pretty good pace. The finish line came at some point and after crossing it I learned that I ended up 9th in the road race, which was pretty good. Unfortunately our GC guy had a breakdown and he had to drop out.

So for the weekend we ended up pretty good as my other teammate finished 6th in a bunch sprint.

I’ll tell you though, Yuma is not a really happy place ad the conditions out there were brutal. The pros actually held a vote to see if they would go for 3 or 4 laps. The advertised distance was 60 miles, but I ended up riding 88 in just under 4 hours. It was painful, but I can feel that it did bring me a lot of fitness, which will be tested this coming weekend.

With only 3 guys we pretty much took control of the race and just did not win because of some unfortunate events. This weekend we will have 8 guys and the shit will hit the fan.

Looking forward to it.


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