2010 Cat 3 State Crit Review

Memorial Day, 2010 dawned as the third day in a row of hot and muggy weather. The 3-day weekend of road criteriums in North Texas had already yielded several reports of heat exhaustion and unusually high cramping, as well as high attrition rates in every event. The concrete literally sizzled as riders pushed the limits of their bodies and bikes in some effort to achieve high placings. But it all culminated in Ft. Worth at the State Crit Championships.

The Mirage Cat 3’s presented 5 riders when the event began… Jason Butler, Gary Dutschmann, Rider X, Shawn Daurelio, and myself, Richard Wharton. In 2009 we delivered the State Champion, and we were excited about the possibilities that we might repeat.

The event began at the absolute hottest time of the day, 1:30pm. Temperatures were in the high 90’s, with a heat index in the 100’s. Warmups were light, and an emphasis was put on actually staying cool and well-hydrated. But the intensity at the front when the race began almost immediately took its’ toll. Over 80 riders began the event, but within about 15 minutes, the main field was down to 35 or 40, and riders  began dropping back and dropping out. There were also some crashes in the infamous “Turn 7”, as riders transitioned from a bumpy brick road to the pavement, complete with city reflectors and a high curb, as well as a steel manhole cover.

I stayed in the pack for the first 20 minutes or so, taking a few pulls for a few laps, but honestly, it was obvious early that I did not have the legs to challenge for a break, or even a prime, and I settled in to support the two most likely teammates who would challenge for the win – Jason and Shawn. About half way in, Jason got in to a break of maybe 13 riders, and I went to the front to effectively block or attempt to block bridging attempts. The break hovered no more than 10 seconds off the front for the longest time, but with 20 minutes to go, teammate Shawn launched a mean solo effort and was able to bridge to the leaders. Having two teammates in the break further cemented my position as domestique, and along with several other riders with teammates off the front, we let the break get further up the road. Meanwhile, the heat and risky corners continued to take their toll, as riders continued to either fall back or disappear off the course, courtesy of the officials and broom.

With about 10 minutes to go, a rider from Oklahoma launched a solo attack off the front of the break, and gained a crucial 15 seconds. Unfortunately, the break was just tuckered enough that they began to fall backwards, and slow down, which made it feasible that the  main pack might actually catch the break. However, one of my favorite comments about a crit or even a road race is, “Hey, we’re running out of real estate!” Translation:  it was too late in the race, and there was too little distance or time available, to truly bridge the 20 or so riders in my group to the break itself. In the final lap, the Oklahoma rider soloed in for the win, but teammate Jason Butler led out teammate Daurelio, who used his uber-powerful quads to sprint to the pack win, earning 2nd place, but actually winning the State Championship, since he was the first Texan across the line.

So the Mirage Cat 3’s worked together, with an implicit understanding about the common goal, and delivered for the second year in a row. Teammate Daurelio won two events that weekend, and later that week was notified of his immediate upgrade to Category 2. I take pride in being a member of a club and group of riders with common goals and an unselfishness that creates greater opportunities for all. Leadership, when shared, allows different talents and strengths to be delegated and exploited, with the reward coming beyond the finish line.

Congrats to Shawn Daurelio, and to the Mirate Cat 3’s, for delivering a state champion two years in a row, in a tough field of talented, developing riders.


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