Race Report: Merco Downtown Criterium, 2010-03-06

One bit summary: 0. One word summary: “grumble”.

This was the second Pro-1-2 crit that I managed to finish. The course was similar to last week’s Merced crit course: flat with multiple challenging technical corners. Prior to the start of the race, the announcers called forward team representatives and other noteworthy figures to the start line. One was Will Dugan, of East Coast fame (notoriety?). I cheered, “ECCC!” when he rolled forward.

A good start is important in a Pro-1-2 crit, as it is hard to move through the pack on a technical course. After about 15 laps (of 50), I was able to learn good lines through the turns, and learn where to move up in the pack. It took a conscious effort, but I was able to gain about 4 spots every lap. The Pro-1-2 men are pretty good pack handlers, better than any field I’ve seen before.

Unfortunately, I had a mechanical issue. I decided to race my Fuji Aloha CF2 this weekend, as its Quarq power meter would give interesting data for the weekend. I also decided to race my Zipp 808 clincher wheels, as they are slightly faster than my 404 tubulars in good conditions. I kept the 12-25 cassette that was on the 808s. These were all mistakes. Whenever I sprinted, I could feel the heavy bike and wheels resisting my effort. Sure, once I got the whole consist up to speed, everything was fine, but it wasn’t as awe-inspiringly fast as my SL3. Furthermore, I realized that I could gain a few additional positions every lap by sprinting out of the last turn in the chicane. Unfortunately, I was usually in the 53-13 or 53-12 while doing this (it was a fast race), so I threw my chain several times. I swear – I’ve NEVER had good front shifting with the CF2-Quarq setup. Either the CF2 is not stiff under load, or the Quarq is not laterally stiff. I’ve used several different chain rings and always have some trouble.

The mechanical issues meant that I was afraid to put any power into the pedals. Dropping a chain meant having 10 people pass me and losing several laps of progress. So, despite moving from near the very back of a 120-person pack to a top 30 position, lack of faith in my equipment kept me from trying any harder. I finished with the pack.

Jane won her Cat 4 race, and an impressive trophy to go with it. She’ll upgrade to Cat 3 for the Madera Stage Race, and use her new Fuji Aloha TT bike. It was a cheap eBay frame built with my spare TT bike parts.

Needless to say, the CF2 is now a training-only bike, and I’m debating selling the Quarq. I need to get power on that SL3. The MetriGear Vector is the top choice, once it becomes available. The other option – SRM – is still too finicky for my taste.