It’s been much too long since I’ve posted a good race report, so here goes it. My first experience with the Matrix Challenge, two days of criterium racing in downtown Dallas, TX, was two years ago when I was freshly upgraded to a Category 4 USAC racer. The two days of ass kicking startled me and was a big motivating factor to stepping it up for that next level.
Now I’m a Category 3 USAC racer in my second year and the Matrix has that familiar ass kicking feel. It takes races like this to clarify what one should have seen in the months leading up to it like consistently missing workouts, not specific training focus and eating like a football player isn’t going to produce desireable results.
The Matrix Challenge is a tight course in a beautiful part of historic downtown Dallas. It’s one of those races where you see guys lining up to get a good starting position 20 minutes before the race because your position in the first lap could mean you have gas for the attack that matters, or you spent it all just getting into position. It is a course that is very difficult to move up in.
I was second row, not bad for our start yesterday, but I got behind those guys who just to the front but can’t get clipped in or started for crap. Into the first turn I was mid pack of 60 racers and trying to move up and avoid guys hitting their brakes through the turns. That’s when the crashes started happening.
I saw good friend Tommy W go down hard in a turn and come up with a limp shoulder and I could tell he was hurt bad. I got caught right behind him coming to a stop and had to jump on it pretty hard to catch with the group for a lap or so. Later on found out Tommy had broken his collarbone and some ribs - not a great way to start criterium season - much prayers and get well soons Tommy!
About 3 laps later a crash, almost in the same spot, brought me to a stand still and I was regretting not fighting harder to get a good starting position on the line. Another 3 laps of chasing back into the main group and I was suffering to hang on. Another couple laps and I realized all my matches were smoked. The best effort I could put out was my LT/TT power and it wasn’t going to be enough to hang in. This course demands you get out of the saddle consistently and I never had a chance after those two crashes.
After the race and that numb feeling from my face faded away I realized that I’ve not done nearly enough intensity going into this race and the next month. It’s part of owning a shop and trying to lead rides for people, but that’s just an excuse as I have mornings to go out and do whatever kind of workouts I need.
I’ve also started paying more attention to watts/kg - one of the best measurements of where your fitness matches up. It brought to memory the cheeseburgers and late night snacks I’ve not held back on the past couple months. It wasn’t a frustration, but more a clarifying similar to when I raced here as a cat 4 a couple years ago. Hard races like this open your eyes to the obvious you’ve been ignoring - which is good if you want to get results!
My race isn’t until 4pm this afternoon, so plenty of chill time today before hand. Drinking coffee and watching LBL, and ready to go after it again today!