The tactics, endorphin rush, speed....there is so much going on with every loop that you can't help but stay glued to the race to watch everything unfold. To really understand crit racing, you have to know the riders, the teams and well, really be in the race.
Karel still has the need for speed on two wheels but now he is much more aero, has a bottle cage on the back of his bike, paces his own race, is not allowed to draft in races and rides a tri bike.
For several years, Karel went to Athens, GA to race the Athens Twilight Criterium. He first raced as an amateur and then once he was eligible to race with the pros in an NRC race pro, he stepped up his game to race with the professionals. Karel was still working up to 45-50 hours a week as the GM of the Trek Store so it was not easy to balance everything and still be in top shape to race with cyclists who race for a job. But nonetheless, Karel made it all work. It took Karel a few years to gain the fitness, tactics and confidence to race this one of a kind race but the message is true and should never be forgotten...... never ever give up even if you fail the first time!
2009 Athens Twilight recap - pro race, did not finish
2010 Athens Twilight recap - pro race, did not finish
2011 Athens Twilight recap - finished!
2012 Athens Twilight recap - finished!
If you are in or around the area next year, we highly recommend that you watch this race. If your town has a professional men/women crit race, check it out as you will not be disappointed. You will not believe the endorphin rush you get as a spectator in Athens, as you watch on the sidelines with 30,000 spectators, students (most of which are drunk) and cycling fans.
This year we had an athlete, Magda (who just upgraded to Cat 1,2), participating in her first Athens Pro race alongside Trimarni athlete Jennie participating in the Cat 3 race earlier in the day.
Just like Karel experienced when he first raced Athens, the race is unlike anything you will ever experience as a cyclist - in racing or training. The race is on a whole other level and the intensity of racing is incredible...incredibly painful.
But for Magda to progress with her fitness, Karel wanted her to participate in Athens in order to gain experience. Cycling is unlike many other sports where you can gain so much from a race regardless if you do or do not finish the race.
Karel not only understands cycling training but also the cycling tactics so it was really fun to spectate Athens together, on the sidelines, for the very first time.
(I am a pro Athens spectator :)
Here are a few pics of Karel racing in the Athens Twilight Crit.
For videos of last nights race, check out the Trimarni Facebook page.