Woke this morning to the steady timpany of rain on the roof as the remnants of Tropical Storm Barry sped over southeastern Virginia. (See radar image above.) Ellie and I had preregistered for the VBW Smackdown out in Suffolk earlier in the week, before Barry was a glimmer in the eye of some meteorologist. It was to be Ellie’s first junior crit. She’s 9 (racing age 10). I woke her, told her it was pouring and that she didn’t have to race if she didn’t want to. She rolled over and said: “Daddy, I’m tough.”
And off we went. It rained hard and wind blew throughout her 20 minute race, but she persevered, rolling up 7 or 8 laps on the kilometer-long course. The one other 10-14 junior, a 14-year-old boy racing for Snow Valley, was well ahead of her, but second place is great. She got soaked and earned a $30 gift certificate. And she said she had fun. Ellie wrote it up here.
My Cat 5 race ran right after Ellie’s. Only about 9 riders showed up, not including preregistered long-distance ironman JB. (Where were you? My daughter raced. 🙂 ) After pouring on Ellie, the rain eased a bit for our race, but the course was slick and the turns would have been hard even if it was dry. (Maybe even harder because we’d have been diving into them.) Three Kitty Hawk racers outnumbered Fireman John and I plus a couple of JRVS racers and Joe from AAB. Fortunately we all knew each other and were fairly competent for Cat 5s, so it was a smart race. We took it easy in the corners and mostly stayed upright, though two of the Kitty Hawk racers slid out on the corners.
One of the wrecks broke up the field and it was Joe, two Kitty Hawk racers and me in the final laps. I was third wheel going into the final turn (thinking I was well-positioned), but the two Kitty Hawk guys got a good jump out of the corner while I was still turning. That five meters gave them 1st and 2nd. I was closing, but didn’t have enough road and got third.
I must admit, I’m not a fan of that course. I’m almost glad it was raining because it kept the field small and made us all race carefully. Those two 110-120 degree turns would have been crazy with 40-50 racers diving for the inside line. And that off-camber turn before the finish straight would have created carnage on the last lap of a large Cat 5 race.
The biggest deal for me today though was that Ellie rode in some of the hardest conditions imaginable and still had a good time. Ellie, you are tough.