ABRA Oval Series comes to an end on a beautiful fall day
The road cycling season is quickly coming to an end as the days shorten and the temperatures drop. I decided I better get in my final road race kicks today at the Bud Harris Oval cycling track in Pittsburgh. I had a great time competing there last month even though criterium events aren't really suited to my strengths, particularly when there's no significant climbing involved. Once again, though, I'm glad I gave it a shot. It was just as much fun this time around and I placed a little higher. The morning started off with the category 4/5 event followed by the category 3/4. Dark clouds loomed overhead and the track was initially wet with a smidgen of leaves, acorns and pine needles. Those concerned me a little but I managed to hang onto the corners pretty well. I was thrilled to win two of the primes in the 4/5 event and one of the prime laps in the 3/4 race. I nearly bit the pavement while sprinting hard in one of the 4/5 primes when my chain skipped off the cassette. There are only a couple other times when I have been so happy not to crash. All I can recall is rolling at full sprint speed of around 30 mph, only on my front wheel with the rear of the bike going sideways. When the rear wheel hit I broke a spoke in it but somehow managed to stay upright and uninjured, thank goodness. The guy immediately following me said that he was setting up to bunny hop over me because he fully expected me to go down onto the track. My mountain bike and cyclocross skills were fully tested on that maneuver. Quite scary. Winning that prime did set me up into a breakaway that would eventually result in my overall placing of second in the 4/5 race. A similar scenario developed in the 3/4 race when I pushed hard with about 14 laps to go. This allowed a breakaway of four of us to form and ultimately stay away from the main field. My legs were pretty dead by the final sprint but I'm still very happy with fifth in the 3/4 class.