Playing Bikes.

Tonight was the first race of the Kulis Crit Series, and it was a lot of fun.

No, I didn't win. In fact, I think I rolled in pretty much last in the pack. Bad positioning (tactical) and a back that gave out five minutes from the finish (physical) ruled me out of contention. At least I didn't add mechanical this time.

It was lightly raining and a little on the chilly side for the first two races of the night. I was racing the B race, which was fairly balanced once the initial selection happened. I played around early on to see how other riders would respond, then moved around the pack, closing gaps here or there. I was feeling pretty good by this year's standards, mixing it up and hanging with some strong riders. Moves went, dangled out there, and then were brought back. Every serious jump was matched, and eventually everyone realized nobody was getting away.

Towards the end I took a little dig to see where I was and my lower back, which had been marinating in the cold rain for a while, finally seized up. I let out an involuntary, pained squeal, then tried to sit in and spin. I was hoping the magical back fairy would visit and sprinkle some lumbar dust on me so I could put pressure on the pedals again. Despite this handicap, I was in good position rolling into the last lap until Sith Lord Bill Fleming, sitting on the front and therefore deciding his own line, teleported five months into the future into cyclocross season. I've never seen someone go that far in the grass on that corner. Markus was on his wheel, and when Bill took the scenic route Markus decided to jump. He opened a gap, taking Stormtrooper Travis with him while the rest of us gawked at Bill. I didn't have the power to close, so I tried to surf my way up. All that did was put me and another in a sub-optimal position rolling into the last turn, causing both of us to lose a lot of speed and allowing riders who weren't as stupid as I was to blow by. Realizing I had screwed up, I sat up and watched the finish. Markus ran out of steam, Travis took the win, and a couple riders that blew by me in the last turn rounded out the podium.

I could be all upset about my stupidity, but even with the best possible positioning I didn't have it in me. That's fine. It's early May, and I was just wanting to play bikes. A little intensity to see where I was. I would have preferred not to have the back issues, but it's nothing new and nothing too serious. I hung in there, rode stupid when I felt like it, and had fun.

For me, that's what crits are. I enjoy it when I win one, but as long as I am able to mix it up, I have fun- win or lose.

Mostly lose.

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