Mid-Week Crits: Facing My Critophobia

The first race I ever considered doing was the Springbank Crit

...back in 2013, the year I joined the Flyers. It was near the end of the OCUP season, and late enough, I figured, for me to get my fitness somewhat up to speed. (HA. Little did I know.) Anyway, one of the more experienced racers on the team, Jorge, just looked at me and said, "No. You don't want to do Springbank as your first race." He was a laconic guy and a bit of a hard-ass, and said no more, but then I looked into it and realized a) Springbank was a criterium race (had to figure out what that was) and b) on the Ontario road racing circuit it's known by nicknames like Bloodbank and Crashbank, and a good few terrabytes of YouTube is taken up with crash footage from the race. One of those clips from the M3 race is described by the poster as "Lovely sunny day, overshadowed by the scariest race I've ever been in." That was the 2013 race I was told not to try. OK, thanks Jorge, good call.

So I've sort of had a phobia of crits ever since. There are a few of them in the OCUP schedule, and not racing them really cuts into the available menu of races in the season. The Mid-Week Cycling Club here in Toronto runs a weekly Tuesday-night crit series that goes from late Spring through the Summer, and I had never got up the gumption to go try one – even though it's perfect race practice. But surrounded by the newly invigorated Dark Horse Flyers team, I decided to give it a shot. I figured if it started to look too hairy I'll just bail. No need, it turns out. Great race, lots of fun (very well organized, shout to the Mid-Week crew), and like Calabogie, I got a 00:00 finish (19th place). Which for me is practically miraculous. But super fun to be in the mix and actually racing; I even took a brief flyer off the front because for once I was actually in a position to try it. Cool.

Cornering at the Mid-Week Crits, without incident.

Keep Calm, and Ride Crits
So while I remain wary of crits, looking at this and Calabogie, they may be my best bet for the elusive single OCUP point. But that is probably for next season. And in retrospect, I'm jealous I didn't race Springbank this year, as this year's Flyers had pretty good, non-crashy results there, including an awesome win for Molly Mac. In the end, I will get to it, but probably not before I get to a certain level of comfort in racing. Which is getting a lot better; I feel a lot more loose and relaxed in the peloton, and the pre-race is much less tense. Once I get to the point where I'm chill enough to get my breathing under control, I think I'll be there.


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