Wow, that was fun. Tonight at the 3rd annual Connecticut Cycling Advancement Program Kermis, I did my first criterium since the 2010 Keith Berger Memorial. Technically, a kermis course is longer than a criterium, but it felt like a criterium. Regardless, it was my first road bike race (not counting last week’s Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hill Climb), in a very long time.
I’ve avoided the road for a variety of reasons. It’s hard to find enough time to train to hang in the super-fast masters fields, and there is an added element risk when riding at these speeds in such close quarters. Tonight’s race wasn’t exactly an easy re-entry into the scene. It was a Friday night, it was raining, and it was getting dark after the 6:45 P.M. start.
I’ve done quite a few kermis races, though not an official one since 1994. I recently wrote about the 20th anniversary of my Belgian summer. Kermis or kermesse is a “festival.” The CCAP has adopted the style and applied it to their 1.60 mile course at Rentschler Field, the old Pratt & Whitney Aircraft airfield that is now the site of the UCONN Football stadium that is name after the iconic field. There were food trucks, beer tents, vendors, and a bounce house. It was a fun atmosphere.
Tonight, I was joined by five teammates, though only four in my race. Max Accaputo raced the elite men’s race that didn’t start until 8:00 P.M. They really rode in the dark! Our race was in the gloaming; I was joined by Pat Cunningham, Paul Nyberg, Ted D’Onofrio, and Trent Sullivan. All five of us are gearing up for cyclocross season. The speed workout was a one big reason why I decided to race. Another was that it was in my “hometown” or where I spend a lot of time, East Hartford, Connecticut.
The short race was fast. We covered 17.6 miles in 40 minutes at an average speed of 26.1 miles per hour. I just don’t ride that fast on my own. Thankfully, our race was safe, with no crashes. The course was fairly technical with a variety of turns, including one hairpin that was challenging in the rain because of paint (cross-walks and center-lines) on the wet pavement. We let a break get away and no Horst Engineering riders were able to bridge up. We took some hard pulls at the front of the field late in the race, but didn’t succeed in closing the gap. I stayed out of trouble in the field sprint.
I hung around afterwards to watch the elite men, man our team tent, and promote http://www.cross-spikes.com. We launched our new site a week ago and even sold a few sets of Horst Spikes on site tonight. It was nice to catch up with some of the road cycling friends that I don’t see as often anymore.