Weekend Roll: Thunderstorms and Crit Racing
The Giro del Cielo stage race in New Jersey has long been a staple of the To Be Determined team calendar, going all the way back to the 2012 edition of the race. This includes the most recent version of the event in 2018 when the team scored a number of stage and GC podiums. With this success somewhat fresh in our mind, we once again headed out to New Jersey this past fourth of July weekend with a large squad in tow, including some of our new To Be Determined f/b Metropolitan Dental Care teammates for Saturday’s opening TT and the afternoon crit at the Sussex County Fairgrounds that was to follow.
We don’t have much to say about the TT, because, well, what can you really say about TT’s? They’re hard, and the new no-TT-bike rule was good, but that’s about it. As for the afternoon racing, if there was a theme for the first few fields at the criterium it was “HOT” - the mid-day sun and the mid-summer humidity combined to create extremely challenging conditions for racing, especially after a thirty minute TT to start the day. However as Alvaro, Corey, and Travis’ race ticked toward its conclusion, things got more interesting when thunder started rumbling in the distance…
Shortly after Corey sprinted for something around 10th the wind started picking up and word went around that the start of the next race would be delayed. The sky darkened, thunder continued sounding, and as rain was added to the mix - eventually becoming an outright downpour - tents started flying and racers headed back to their cars to seek shelter from the storm:
After 30 odd minutes of torrential rain the skies started turning blue. It took another 30 minutes for the ‘lakes’ that settled on the backstretch and the final corner to dry out enough to resume racing (thanks to the fairgrounds folks who attempted to dry things out with leaf blowers), but after an hour or so delay we were somehow back to racing.
By the time the first of the two women’s fields kicked off, the course was - improbably - mostly dry and conditions were seemingly back to a beautiful afternoon for racing bikes. Lisa ticked off a 4th place finish in the Women’s 1/2/3 field while Colin and I started final preparation for our race that was to take place shortly thereafter.
However, just as the second Women’s field was approaching it’s conclusion the sky once again turned ominous. A few minutes before our rescheduled race was due to start lightning appeared on the horizon and we were hit with yet another delay and a second forced retreat to our cars for shelter from the looming storm.
This second storm featured nearly as much rain as the first, but with the ground already saturated, the flooding was even worse than earlier in the day. It quickly became clear that the course was never going to dry out in time to fit in the last two races of the day. Wayne, the dedicated race director for the Giro del Cielo, had no choice but to wander over to the parking lot to let racers know that the rest of the crit was cancelled - after nearly four hours standing around in kit, waiting to race, hiding in cars, then waiting to race again, there would be no race.
Somewhat dejected, we did the next best thing after racing bikes: we headed to a most excellent local diner for milk shakes and some delicious burgers - not the worst way to end an at times frustrating day with a most excellent crew of teammates and friends: