Greg Hufford, 2nd Place, UCSB Men’s D Criterium

USC Cycling Gregg Hufford. 2nd place Crit at UC Santa Barbara. March 2012

This was my first crit, and only my second race so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.  As soon as the race started, I took Carter’s* advice and made my way towards the front of the pack in order to get myself in a good position.  I jostled with the top few guys for the beginning of the first lap until we came to the first corner.  I tucked in and was able to make a nice and tight turn while maintaining my speed.  Curiously enough, the rest of the pack took the turn extremely wide and I gained what felt like a good 10-yards or so without even trying (I guess those Thursday night crit practices came in handy.  Thanks Eric**!).  I wasn’t about to try and go solo for the whole race so I just took it easy until they managed to catch up.    Eventually they must have taken off their training wheels and learned to corner better because it started getting much faster a few laps in.  I still maintained my position near the front; however, I made sure to draft off someone so that I could save energy.

Several of the teams were large enough to make attempts at pace lines.  I saw each of these pace lines as an opportunity.  When one team would start to make a break for it, I would work my way into their group.  As they started to get tired and began to fall off, another team would shoot up toward the front, and I would work my way into the new group.   I kept up with this strategy for the majority of the race and it seemed to work fairly well at keeping me near the front without having to work to hard.

By the time we had two laps to go, I made sure to get behind somebody so that I could save some energy for the finish.  Halfway through the last lap, the lead guy pealed off and I found myself in a position at the front of the pack on the inside lane.  I knew that I needed to make a break for it before the last turn.  If I waited for the straight to sprint, someone would have drafted off me so that they could fly around me right at the finish.  I grabbed onto the drops, got out of the saddle, and began to pull on the bike with everything I had left.  I came around the turn in the lead and in a prime position to win the race.  I kept sprinting, just looking ahead, and giving it my all.  As my legs began to go numb, the rest of the pack started to catch up and it became any man’s race.  To my left I saw a kid pass me and just as I crossed the finish line there were several others right beside me.  In fact, I wasn’t sure in what place I had come in until I saw the results an hour later.  I got 2nd place.  It was a great race for me and I certainly look forward to doing a few more this year.

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