Tuesday Night Crits in Plano by Justin Husman
A lot of this blog (and a lot of Dallas based bicycle blogs in general) are focused on very specific parts of the Dallas bike culture – mostly to do with casual, fixed gear riding or trying to advocate ways to change Dallas’ car-centric ways to make it more bike friendly. Those things are great, but for me, a big part of cycling is racing. I used to have dreams of being a racer when I was younger, but my parents made the mistake of buying me my “good” ten speed when I was 15. I rode that Peugeot all over Garland, Rockwall, and Rowlett for a year, and when I turned 16 and got my license my bike was forgotten. I was still a cycling fan, and if a race was available to watch, I was there, whether it was a part of a Japanese stage race in Nagasaki, Keirin races in Okinawa, or watching the pursuit in the Hong Kong Velodrome (now demolished, if I’m nor mistaken). I just love to see bikes go fast, and listen to the woosh – click of the peloton as they speed by.
My neighbor is also a big bike nerd, and a couple of weeks ago he told me about a local Criterium race that happens every Tuesday night about 3 miles from our neighborhood. Last night I loaded up the giant saddlebag I have on my bike with a few beers and some ice, and away we went. The ride over was fairly uneventful, even though it was the tail end of rush hour. I was pleased that my neighbor couldn’t drop me, even though he was on his fancy carbon bike and I was on my old gas pipe singlespeed loaded down with beer and ice.
We arrived at the track, which is a small industrial park that hasn’t been built out – it is .8 miles around, with 2 sharp turns and 2 gentle sweepers. There were lots of cars and trucks with bike racks hanging off the back, and more than one bike shop van was there to support their teams. The “A” race had just started, so we made our way to a shady part of the track, popped some beer, and watched the crowd go by. The first few laps were just warm up laps, and the peloton stayed together – it wasn’t until about lap 4 that things started to spread out.
As the race went on, riders started to drop out. I had a chance to talk to one (the guy that owned the red pickup you see in the photo) and he told me that this was a really fast night – they were running about 28 mph around the corner, and pouring it on in the straights. These are the “real” racers, even a couple of professionals who have raced with some of the big teams you see on TV. As people dropped out the field got smaller and smaller, and our guy in the blue continued to maintain his lead for most of the race. However, he wasn’t a superhuman monster and he was reeled in by the main pack and spit out of the back. Once he was absorbed he struggled (and failed) to maintain position, and he lost the pack about 10 minutes or so before the end of the race. I saw him ride off of the track and start loading his bike onto his car while there was still racing going on.
The race went on for about an hour, and the final sprint was something to see. The three guys in the first picture maintained their lead until the last turn, and then the entire pack started to sprint. The last guy (in red) in the last picture laid on the gas and took the race, even though he had been with the second breakaway for at least 15 minutes before the final turn. As they sprinted to the finish, my neighbor and I cheered, finished up our beers, and made our way home. I wish I’d brought a real camera, but I think my iPhone took some ok shots. I tried to get a photo of the final sprint, but my phone just wasn’t up to it.
I highly recommend coming out to check out the racing action if you get a chance. For those of you that don’t live in Plano but what to ride your bikes, you can take the train to the downtown Plano station, and the races are about 5 miles or so from the station. There are 3 races – “A”, “B”, and “C”, so there is plenty of racing to be seen. They start at 5:30 pm. We watched the “A” race, but my understanding is that the “C” races are a little more exciting because of the amateur nature of the racers. In NASCAR they say that rubbin’ is racin’ – but in bike races, rubbin is wreckin’.
For race details and direction go to http://www.netcyclesolutions.com
Or use this handy map to find it:
View Dallas Tuesday Nighter in a larger map
Tags: Tuesday Night Crits