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PSU Pagoda Crit & Circuit Race

Date: 2003-03-12
By: jkopena

So, yeah, like I said:

Pagoda Crit

  • Men's B (45 starters)
    • 8th Joe Kopena (1 sprint pt)
    • 22nd Erik da Silva (2 sprint pts)
  • Men's C (45 starters)
    • 1st Justin Kline (3 sprint pts)
    • 21st Chris Hair
  • Men's D (32 starters)
    • 18th Mike Ondik

Pagoda Circuit Race

  • Men's B (35 starters)
    • 13th Joe Kopena
    • 29th Erik da Silva
  • Men's C (32 starters)
    • 8th Justin Kline
    • 18th Chris Hair
  • Men's D (41 starters)
    • 21st Mike Ondik


In a way, I think none of us were looking forward to this weekend.The Pagoda races are always cold, typically overcast, and frequentlysnowing, raining, and generally god-awful. My stronger memories ofthe course all run something like getting a flat and torquing a wheelon one of the many potholes on the back side; standing around in slushand ice getting changed for a silly 4 mile time trial; watching theclouds roll in and drown out precious little sun.

All that being said, I think the weekend turned out pretty well. Alittle cold, but you've got to expect that on the Pagoda early in thespring. I don't think we could seriously complain about more or lesssunny skies, no rain, and only a light sprinkling of snow at onepoint. However, the weather did play a big part: when we got thereSaturday morning, the roads were iced over. This was pointed outquite quickly when Chris almost slammed the Caravan into Ondik'sHyundai on a patch of ice by the registration table. The early set upfeatured a steady stream of squealing brakes as every car coming upthe hill locked up the brakes and slid out on it.

Jim from PSU said we'd been good up until about 11 the night before.The roads were clear, then right around then as he was out sweepingcorners a light snow came in and frosted them. This dusting of courseturned to ice overnight. By 9:30 or so, it was pretty clear theplanned road race around the mountain wasn't happening, it was toocold for the ice to melt enough. There was talk of doing the Pagodatime trial, but it would also have had to be moved because of ice.

Somewhere along the way, somebody started talking about doing thisridiculous crit where you would come up the first third of the Pagodahill, do a 180 in the Pagoda parking lot, charge down the hill to verynarrow 90 degree turn into a triangular roundabout, and repeat asdesired. In short, a course designed to have no fans whatsoever---toovertical for crit riders, too many sharp corners for hill riders.Plus, you'd be going up and down the same stretch of road with justthe mostly faded out yellow line seperating the uphill and downhill,with plenty of chances in the corners and bends for a head-on. Notnearly as sick as Navy, but getting there.

It was definitely twisted, but ultimately I think a pretty goodcourse. Considering that they put it together on the spot, PSU andthe officials did an awesome job salvaging a full weekend with thisSaturday crit. Plus, on top of that, the ice cleared over Saturdayand early Sunday so we got to have the road/circuit race as well.


One of the interesting things about the crit course as a spectator wasthat since it went up and down the same road, you got to see theracers ridiculously frequently. I would be yelling at Justin, only tohave to yell at him again a moment later as he came up the other side.Presumably because of this extra motivation and guidance, our littleCutes monstered yet another race. I think Justin probably strikes theperfect balance for that course---light enough to get up the hill, MTBenough to handle the corners, lazy enough to not try any stupid movestoo early. Anyway, in his first C race, he ran pretty much a perfectrace---grabbed some sprint points when it required no real effort todo so, but mostly just sat in there, waited for his chance, and thenpounced really hard at the end and easily put the field away. It waspretty cool to watch him jump the field and no one respond asthey went around the curve to the end.


For me, one of the real highlights of the weekend was the way everyoneturned on Justin after the Saturday win. There were lots of cries ofsandbagger, lazy, doper, and then it got even better as the critiquebroadened to include school (how could he do so well, he never doesany work), girls (he clearly doesn't deserve Beth), and everythingelse imaginable. This went on all night. He of course responded withassinine arrogance in the form of biting comments like "Have a beerJoe, all the winners are!" Rumors abound that he tanked the Saturdayrace on purpose just so everyone would leave him alone.


The B race also featured its share of Drexel excitement, althoughmostly not in any good way. The high point was probably when Erik andI collided in the top roundabout, nearly creaming another guy andsending me into the guardrail. Actually, it wasn't so bad except thatit put me behind and I had to spend several laps catching back up tothe lead group. The combination of the course being really narrow,riders coming head-on at each other, each end having sharp and/or fastcorners, and the climb socking it to people meant that there were alot of crashes and sketching riding. In the second lap, a UNH riderjust fell over on the hill by the finish line. I thought my race wasdone as he hit me and my rear wheel, but I kept it upright just longenough to make it up the hill, around the corner, and right into Erik.The rider had knocked my foot out and I guess I hadn't gotten itreally back on before the corner. Half way through it came out again,and I went way off track, cutting almost straight across the courseinto Erik. We of course had been planning this, and as I reclippedand held up the pack, Erik took off on a charge down the hill, caughtthe two leaders, and headed off on a break that lasted several lapsand racked up a couple points. Fortunately though, he soon came tohis senses, realized that if he kept it up people might start thinkinghe likes hill, and came back to the group along with the other two.


In general, I think everyone had a really good weekend of racing.Mike put in a great ride on Sunday's hilly road course and then headedoff to do more for kicks. Chris also put in a great showing afterupgrading to C this weekend. I'm really enjoying everybody doing welland it's neat to have notable riders in multiple categories.


One of the commandmants Darco tells new racers, and rightfully so, issomething like "Never play with your bike the night before a race!" Ihear he's even started adding in an extra note to not listen to or belike Joe Kopena in this matter. I thought this was pretty funny whenChris told me Darco said this at the tuturial ride he ran a while ago,it all came back to bite me when it turned out my rear brake had beenrubbing the whole Saturday race. I'm going to say it's because of theUNH guy falling into me, but I'll have to admit to taking apart mywhole drivetrain and whatnot the night before...


Of course, the best part of the Pagoda races is staying at the daSilvas. This year was no exception, especially as I got to sleep inthe office, away from the dogs and Justin. We even got Najeeb to comeup for the night, after apparently being lost for a long time, thenturning part of the way back home, then deciding he'd come too far toquit, and finally making it after I had finally been forced to give upon waiting for him and went to bed.

So, for the guys that don't know, the past couple years I've taken upcooking with reasonably success. For a twenty-something bachelorcollege student, I can cook pretty well. But, it constantly impressesme how the things I make just aren't as impressive or good as whatmoms make. As an example, I have no idea what was in Momma da Silva'schili on Saturday, but it was awesome although as usual we all ate waytoo much. Interestingly, Katy's chili has changed my outlook on racefood since the first time we crashed there two years ago (the chili isa staple of this race-weekend visits). On the road it's a constantstream of pasta because that's dependable and a largely knownquantity. At home though, I often now have chili or a tofu/rice baseddish for dinner before a Fed race.

It's also interesting to note that this weekend, with his parentswatching, Erik actually put half an effort into getting ready in timefor the race. Of course, they can't be fooled and his true natureshown through when he decided to get off the trainer because it wastoo early, took off some of his gear, and then didn't get back on andwound up rushing to the start line at the last moment as usual.

The Real Prize

In addition to stripping my bike down the evening before the race, Iwas also stupid Friday night and Saturday morning, not eating much fordinner and then chugging a lot of caffeinated tea on the drive to therace. My stomach was doing loops all day, and I spent a lot of timein the Portajohn. I made it through the race ok, but let's just sayafterward was less than pleasant. Justin may have won the race, butfor once in team history, I hands-down won the weekly contest of whocan produce the most noxious fumes. It was pretty brutal. I was soglad Katy's chili isn't very spicy-hot. The solid dinner with a ricebase went a long way toward settling things down and is pretty muchthe only reason I made it through the next morning.


So, that's it for the second weekend of racing. Next week a bunch ofus will be away for spring break and work trips, but it should stillbe exciting as a number of the new guys will be making the trip. I'mlooking forward to the new term starting and a couple more peoplecoming out regularly as we head into the serious and very awesome roadraces in the last half of the season.

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Page last modified on February 28, 2009, at 06:26 AM