Masters National Championship Criterium (Men 55-59) Race Report

NCVC's Curtis Southern has been racing with NCVC for longer then we can remember.  Curtis has always had great results in the MABRA area and he recently traveled to Ogden, Utah for the USA Cycling National Championships.  Below is a recap of his time spent there racing.  Enjoy!

 

 

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Masters National Championship Criterium (Men 55-59) Race Report

From L to R (Tom Godfrey, Mary Breed, Curtis Southern)

A total of 65 men came to the start line in downtown Ogden, Utah on Saturday, September 6th.

The race course for this year’s national championship criterium was on a T-shaped, 1 mile long course with 8, 90 degree turns and the longest stretch of road between turns being just 2 tenths of a mile long. The course was mostly flat with good road surfaces, but just 100 meters after you crossed the start/finish line there was a short big ring uphill to turn 1.

Although I had made a concerted effort to get to the start line early so I would have a good starting position, about 40 other guys had the same idea and they got there before I did. I was not happy. I had travelled a long way to do this race and now as a result of my poor positioning felt my race might be over before it ever started. I reassured myself that it would be okay. We were going to be racing for 50 minutes. When they said “go” I immediately clipped in, jumped up and relying on a bit of cyclocross experience, shot up the right side of the field and made the first hard right turn. Within a matter of just a few seconds I had gone from about 45th at the start to 12th. I was happy and right where I wanted to be.

The race was fast and if you weren’t making an effort to move forward in the field you were going backwards. Our teammate Richard Distlerath had told me weeks before the race how it would play out and where I needed to be in the field during the race and towards the end. Most of the time, I hovered between 5th and 15th in the field. The laps seemed to go by rather quickly and easily. Although there were some tight sections on the course there were other sections that were four lanes wide. As a result, I found it pretty easy to move up in the field when I wanted to.

With 8 laps/miles left in the race, I was within arm’s reach of Mark Sommers from DC Velo, when he and one other rider attacked. I thought quickly and remembered what Richard had told me. My chances were better if I kept an eye on and stayed with the favorites in the field with National Championship or World Championship bands on their jerseys. For the next 6 laps/miles Sommers and the other rider got further and further away. When they got to be 15 seconds up the road I began to question my decision. Suddenly, with just 2 laps to go, a local rider from Utah who is a previous National Champion hit the gas at the front and in less than a lap the field caught the two man break. Richard was right. The race was going to come down to a sprint with the big guns battling it out.

As the bell rang for the last lap I was sitting in 5th. Going up the hill to turn 1, we suddenly slowed and I was swarmed by riders on both sides. I was now in 20th. Alarm bells were going off. I needed to make up ground quick as we were now just 9 tenths of a mile from the finish. I raced up the right side of the field on every straight to get back to the front. With just 600 meters left in the race I had scratched and clawed my way back up to 6th and the sprint was starting. The favorites we there and we were at full gas. I sprinted to the final corner and then to the finish line holding on for 4th. It was a great feeling!

The race and the experience were worth all the effort it took to get there and it wouldn’t have happened without the support and encouragement of a lot of people.

I’ve got to thank Tom Godfrey, Richard Distlerath, my wife, Martha, Pete Lindeman, Mary Breed, my Hains Point training buddies and many others whom have trained with me and cheered me on.

Thank you so much!