2018 Kingdom European Tour - ZuriCrit
Weeks of travelling, thousands of dollars invested, thousands of kilometers ridden in training. All for a half hour race. Yet I can’t wait to do it all over again.
You can always make excuses for when it goes wrong, the truth is that everything is not always going to go according to plan and you have to be prepared for it. Welcome to my cup-half-full thinking process.
When I (Andre - Kingdom Founder) did my first fixed-gear criterium back in May, in LA, I had no idea what to expect. I had been training and I knew how to ride a fixed-gear bike yet my goal was to simply not get embarrassed. In every fixed-gear criterium (we’ll just call them fixed crits from here on), the first goal is to qualify for the main event of the day – the final. Then, not to get lapped by the leader, in which case you have to abandon the race, you still get ranked but with a DNF (Did Not Finish) remark before your name. Once you accomplish those two main goals you start thinking about things like positioning: top20, top 10, top 5… then, winning.
Not a lot of people get to that mindset, you’d have to be close to a professional cyclist to do so. Yet in that race in LA I did finish the final (barely) and was extremely excited to repeat it all.
Fast forward to the “European Tour” where the plan was for me to go to England, the Netherlands and Switzerland to get as many points as possible towards my World Championship qualification. Now, as you know, if you’ve read the Minet Crit and Draai V/D Kaai race reports, I went into those with very low expectations. First to qualify for the respective finals and subsequently to get myself some points, which required me finishing the race on the same lap as the leader. Now I’m in Zurich, Switzerland and I’m only holding the 10 points I scored in England.
England was the “easiest” race thanks to the course not being very technical. Then in the Netherlands, it was a whole different ball game–tight turns, cobble stones and professional cyclists. Zurich doesn’t seem much different from that. Several of the same strong riders are here and the course is not any easier. I’ve stopped thinking about the possibility of finishing the final, now my one and only goal of the day is to “just” make it to the final. How? Top 10 of each of the three qualifier heats advance to the final.
Unfortunately, in events like these, I become a very goal oriented person. Like you read before, there are these milestones I put myself through: qualifying, not getting lapped, etc. Well, that’s definitely not the best approach. Why? When I’m focused on qualifying, what I have to do to accomplish that is finish Top 10 on the qualifying heat, so theoretically, 10th would be fine. It shouldn’t be because that means starting the final at the back of the starting grid, which reduces the chances to finishing the race in the same lap as the leaders to almost zero.
Now, try to guess what I did? Started well, then started getting scared of the one tight corner on the course, moving towards the back. 3rd… 5th… 7th… And where does my mind go?: “I could still lose three spots and I qualify, so what do I do? Sit back and “save energy”, moving all the way down to 10th and pat myself on the back for securing 10th place. Fast forward to the start of the final later in the night and guess what position in the starting grid that self-back-padding gave me? Yup, last.
And now the goal-orientation process restarts all over again. Start as hard as possible to move close to the leaders. I started by passing 2-3 people per lap but by the time I got to 22nd or 23rd place the front 20 were way too far ahead and now I get to race for survival. At least I got some nice skilled new friends to keep me company. I did end up getting lapped but had a blast nonetheless. I got to hang out with some very cool people in a very cool city.
No points again for me toward Fixed Nations Cup qualification but like any of these races, if I finish with all four limbs, it was indeed a success. Fingers crossed for coming back stronger (mentally?) in Italy next month to qualify for the first ever, unofficial Fixed Criterium World Championships.