Everybody loves a local weekday crit or “Worlds” ride. Knoxville is home to a 3 race Wednesday crit called Knoxie Crits. They are hosted in a park inside of the Zoo/parking lot. I missed the first 2 races due to forgetting shoes and annual training. Finally, I was in Knoxville for the last race of Knoxie Crits. The fact that Pro Road Nats was just in Knoxville meant that some guys hung back like Brad Huff (Rally Pro Cycling), the current US Professional Criterium National Champion. In addition to Huff, Jake Sitler a CCB-Velotooler rider also hung back. On top of those two powerhouses; Knoxville is home to the Crit Life team, a first year Criterium focused team that has dominated the US scene so far.
Knoxie Crits are not worth any upgrade points and don’t have podium places or cash placings so this means it is all about having fun and racing until your eyes pop out. I showed up only planning on doing the A race but that was only because I thought the B race was for Cat 4/5 mix. I learned that most of the Cat 3 riders and some Cat 2 guys ride the B race so I signed up too. The B race was filled with attacks but through the work of 3-4 guys the attacks were always brought back. With a couple of laps to go I decided to attack and have some fun. I immediately created a big gap with 3 guys to chase. One of the guys chasing was local Cat 2 rider Dustin. It seems like he did most of the work to close the gap and let the other two jump finish the last little bit of work. After a couple of laps of being solo I saw that they were closing the gap so I decided to ease up and let them come across. There were 2 or 3 laps left. I welcomed the assistance. The race ended up concluding with a sprint between the three of us. The finish was really close between me and a junior rider. We don’t actually know who won but it didn’t matter.
There was a 15 minute break between the B race and the beginning of the A race. Enough time to recover a little. The A race was only slotted for 40 minutes of racing. Three pros on the starting line, one of them being the current National Champion, as well as a mix of Cat 1s, 2s, and lower cats. I was giddy to start the race and see if I could hang on. The race played out like most would expect. The three pros played with the field and attacked at will. It was truly amazing to experience the massive attacking power of the pros. They could open a huge gap within a couple of pedal strokes. I was stuck chasing and closing the gap after each attack. I ended up finishing 4th which was great because I only lost to the three professionals. Since the race was just for fun it allowed me to be more aggressive and get the racing mindset back.