Air Force Cycling Classic: Crystal Cup

Saturday’s race, Clarendon Cup, was a 1/2/3 event on a brutal 5-turn course. It was a recipe for disaster. Fortunately, day 2 of racing was presented in the form of the Crystal Cup and a 3/4 event. Half the course was every bit as difficult as Clarendon – 7 turns over tarmac that was more reminisicient of the Moon’s surface than a city street – but half of it was straight as an arrow and twice as easy as Clarendon. Oh, and there were about a 100 of the area’s most enthusiastic racers. From the most dominating 3’s to the freshest 4’s, the start line was packed. Ironically, this was an alternative recipe for disaster..

6 and a half minutes into the event, several riders got pushed into the barriers of turn 2 – an off camber, uphill, 90 degree right hander. The ensuing carnage was bad and the race was red flagged. As riders re-staged and waited for the race to restart, the ambiance was one of low-level panic. Teams shouted over each other to determine whether or not they had riders in the pile up, and people shard information about the carnage. Eventually the course was cleared and the race allowed to resume (of note, the promoter was gracious enough to allow the race to run full distance despite time constraints – thanks!).  Unfortunately, the next 39 minutes were no safer than the first 6. The final tally seems to be 7 independent crash events.

Bike racing is dangerous, but it’s not usually so bad. There are lots of reasons that it turned out to be such a disaster, but none are worth dwelling on. The Bike Lane team was lucky enough to come out mostly unscathed. RJ hit the deck in crash number 1, but wasn’t injured and was able to restart. When people weren’t becoming intimate with the pavement, the race proceeded as crits are won’t to do: attack, catch, counter. Wash, rinse, repeat. Unfortunately, the team’s timing wasn’t right. Pierce finished in 9th and Andrew in 14th. Maybe not the results everybody was hoping for, but a victory in coming home with bikes and bodies in tact. Of the packed start line, USA Cycling results show that only 39 racers finished.

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