9th Annual Chris Hinds FUJI “Sunshine” Criterium

April 4, 2011

Presented by Arc en Ceil Racing Team, NBX/Narragansett Beer p/b Apex Technology
Ninigret Park, Charlestown, RI Saturday, April 02, 2011 12:45pm

This was my first race at Ninigret and my first masters crit. They have a race track on a disused airfield on the south coast of Rhode Island. Folk down there crash a lot. The fire brigade were hosing a dramatically igneous car on Rt 4, the paramedics were stretching someone from another car on 95 near Cranston, the cops were sorting out a crumpled pair of cars a little north of Providence. And that was just the ride home. The Ninigret race track, otoh, is safe. No cars, curbs, railings, drains or potholes. In a pinch you can safely ride off the track and on the grass.

Clearly most contestants race that track a lot and the racing style is interesting. Frequent very short-lived attacks. Just as frequent, the speed drops to a crawl. Nobody cooperates with anyone, it seemed. As though there’s a repeating 15-way match sprint going on at the front. Intriguing and good fun. Keep your eyes on the front to save energy. Skills were generally very good so I felt safe despite a lot of hard, close racing. And it was very windy which made it particularly interesting.

I’m no sprinter and never will be so opportunism is my only hope in a race like this. On (maybe) the 3rd bell lap I got near the front. The attack went in the usual place, after the 2nd last turn, and I found a good wheel. Three guys got well clear and then I found myself in 4th with the gap ahead of me. I started slowing thinking the sprinters would finish the job and then we regroup. The guy behind me said something to me, either encouraging or exasperated at my slowing, I’m not sure which, and I responded with my best shot. Meanwhile, three sprinters ahead were side-by-side looking at each other deciding who would lead it out, and I sailed past. That felt nice.

Later, pretty much the same thing happened again, I got past a small group of stalling sprinters. But I couldn’t believe the situation and decided something was wrong. It must be a straight prime and there’s a break down the road and I’m sprinting for nothing and everyone will think I’m foolish. So I sat up. I was passed close to the line by one of the Fuji chaps, whom I asked, to confirm, is there anyone ahead of us? He said yes, those two (pointing). I said, so that was for nothing? He said, no, we were racing for the field sprint. Fooey!

At that point I was miffed and directed my anger at the two ahead so I led for nearly a lap to bring them in. They weren’t going to confuse me again. Actually, it was so windy that I couldn’t hear the prime announcements, only the bell.

That tired me out a bit. But there were still a few laps to the finish. It looked like the race would stay together. What to do? The way it was working meant I didn’t want to attack, because I knew I’d get no help and with that wind would need it. So I wanted to go with a late attack. But nothing stuck and in the drag race to the finish I sat up when I saw I couldn’t make top 10.

Won some Fuji handlebar tape on that prime.

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