Very excited to have Katrinna Roth contributing to theholeshot.ca. She attended the VCXC Grass Crit in the smokin August heat and has reported back for us. Enjoy
VCXC Grass Crit @ Hastings Racecourse
Saturday August 13, 2016
Words and Photos: Katrinna Roth
We keep complaining that summer hasn’t really been the best because we’ve had few hot, sunny days on our calendars. Well, summer decided to be in full-force for Saturday’s grass crit at Hastings Racecourse. It was almost as if the weather Gods were laughing at us –all us spandex clad men, women, and children, praying for and dreaming of cyclocross season, longing for mud and dirt and mess…and all the weather brought us was sun, and heat, and dust.
Not that I can really complain. I enjoy the summer sun…but I also very much am looking forward to ‘cross season. I was crossing my fingers that it would rain for Saturday and that we would all have been racing in piles of mud!
Folks began to roll up after the gates opened for noon.
Food trucks were lined up all the way down the walkway, and beer tents were tucked in there too. I got excited for all the food options, but I avoided eating a big meal (and beer!) before race time.
This wasn’t your typical crit race. There were no timing chips, numbers were given at random, and we would be racing on grass.
The course was set up in the infield of the racing track. Not the dirt track that the horses race on, but inside of that. Smack dab in the middle.
The course was set up following the horse’s race course, with a few zig-zaggy corners before the straight stretch to the finish line.
Riders were organized into heats, with four heats for the men and one for the women. I was elated that we had enough women come out to have our own heat and to have some competition. The organizers explained that the top 3 or 4 people from each heat would race in the finals, and that for the women, we would take the top 5 to the finals. Everyone would race 7 laps per race, with the women completing 5 laps for their final. Seemed fair enough.
The men began racing first.
I was stoked to have the racing start. I had been giddy and excited all morning leading up to the race, because it made me feel as if ‘cross was actually close. So close, that I can almost smell the mud, the rain and the cold.
Some of the men raced fast, some of the men raced slow.
Only one man dared to reach for my beer hand out. And I apologize to him, because it resulted in a very sticky mess (for him).
Hastings racecourse was lit up with the noise of cowbells, cheers and of course, heckling. Although the course was flat, the faster riders managed to get some (minor) airtime off of a ramp on the stretch towards the finish line.
In the women’s lineup, I was accompanied by gals from Steed, Glotman-Simpson and even Pender. The countdown was quick, and the goal was clear –make top 5 and you’d have to do the race all over again.
Part of me felt motivated to push as hard as I could, while the other part of me (well over 50%) wanted to enjoy a cold beer and just watch the fun unfold. I knew that some of the women in the race were normally racing cat 1-2-3 in the crits, and my cat-4-crit-legs would struggle to keep up the pace.
The countdown was fast. Our race began.
Dust was flying and dirt stuck to our sweat. The course had changed slightly since pre-riding it before the men’s races began –dry, sandy ruts in the corners of the zig-zags made cutting the corners a slower process. Though it wasn’t mud, this was the closest thing I was going to get to a cyclocross race today.
The seven laps went by fast, and before you know it, I was heading for the beer tent with a big smile on my face, only to find out that I had actually made 5th place and would have to do the race again…oh my. I didn’t see that coming.With only a half-hour stretch before we started the final, I had to set my beer drinking plans aside.
The men began their finals at 4:00 PM-food trucks were already packing up…and I was longingly staring at them, wanting to try all the food that they could possibly create.The men’s race seemed far closer this time in terms of racers;they rode much closer to each other and it didn’t seem that anyone was dropped.There was more dust, more sweat and more sun.
The women, including myself,lined up for our final race at 4:15 PM.I was prepared to pull up the back of the group, and I did manage to do so after the top three women broke away on pretty much the first lap. Speedsters! I took home a comfy fourth place, just in time to order a fresh pizza and cold Granville Island Brewery beer.
The last men’s race took place at 4:30 PM and I watched them complete their laps from the comfort of a chunk of shade with my pizza and beer in-hand. This race appeared more intense than the first men’s final –but perhaps they were all trying to finish racing so that they could enjoy their beers too.
The victors of the races took home the bacon, literally. The rest of us took home dusty bikes and big smiles, along with an itch for cross season to arrive sooner.