Crits naturally bring out much larger fields in NorCal. Add to that decent prize money and put it in the heart of one of the most populated cycling regions in the world, and you will have a full field. The San Rafael Twilight Crit brought out some big names from across the country, and some big teams from all over the west coast. Oh, and the Umbrella Girls were there…
Since many of the Marc Pro – Strava guys raced Downieville on the same day, our roster was a little slim: Justin Rossi, Kris Lunning, Art Rand, and Nate Freed. We still felt confident that we would be able to mix it up with the big boys. The race started out fast and furious as they usually do, with the top pros trying to assert themselves on the front right away. By the second lap there was a HUGE crash. I was near mid-pack and everyone behind me either went down or was caught behind the crash. The field literally split from 120 to 60 or less. Just as I scrambled up with the leaders, the race was neutralized. I thought this was a bad idea, and commented to Justin that as soon as they restarted the race, it would get crazy all over again. We spent a good four or five laps just riding around while neutralized before the riders who crashed were able to reinsert themselves into the field.
As soon as they finally restarted the race, there was another crash. Then another. Then another. And these weren’t just small ones where guys tipped over and got a little road rash. There were guys flying over curbs, hitting metal barriers, and piling up at crazy high speeds. Each time there was a crash, another 10 or 20 guys got taken out. I was a little concerned that I didn’t see Lunner or Art through the course of the entire race. Justin and I managed to keep ourselves out of trouble and tucked up near the front 20 or 30 guys. We each gave a little dig to bridge up into breakaways, but nothing was sticking at all.
With 4 laps to go, I was in decent position (top 20) and still feeling really good, when a kid from Specialized went down right in front of me. He must have either crossed wheels with someone or gotten pushed into the barriers. There was no chance that I was going to stop or avoid him, so I slowed as much as possible and pretty much dove on top of him and his bike. Then about 4 or 5 guys plowed into me. My derailleur hanger snapped and rear skewer broke, and a few other minor things. The other guys involved in the crash were much worse off than I was.
Shortly after, I watched Justin cruise in for around 20th place, and Art followed him. It turns out that Lunner was taken out in the crash on the second lap. He went to the hospital the next day for X Rays, and has a broken collarbone. Heal up buddy!
Big thanks to Dustin for meeting us and letting me borrow his bike to race in Lodi the following day!
In conclusion, next year I will be racing Downieville. It is probably just as dangerous, but at least there I control my own destiny.