Last weekend the San Francisco Twilight Criterium descended upon Cow Hollow, giving us front row seats for an exciting bike race. According to usacycling.org, a crit is "...a multi-lap race of 25 to 60 miles held on a closed course generally a mile or less in length. These races, which usually last one to two hours, are extremely fast -- 30 mph and up -- as the cyclists jockey for position and sprint for lap “primes” (cash or merchandise prizes, pronounced “preems”). "
...so, many many laps on a short course - yup, essentially riding around and around in a circle for an hour or so. In this case, the course was 1km long, two blocks by three blocks. J. and I worked our way around backwards, attempting to take photos (the race was moving clockwise, and we walked along the course so that we were facing the oncoming cyclists). My little camera was barely up to the combination of speed and fading light, and each shot was a surprise to see what I'd managed to get.
These men and women are going fast, and ride very close to the barriers marking the course. There are bales of hay set up to ostensibly slow/"catch" any rider who skids out of a turn; standing at the far end of the turns and watching riders barrel towards you is sort of harrowing, and you feel like those little stacks are hardly enough!
It was pretty chilly once the sun went down, but a surprising number of people were out watching until the end. The usual pointy-shoes-designer-jean crowd that seems to descend on the area on the weekends was temporarily replaced by a sportier, messenger-bag toting, short-pants-shaved-legs-beanie-wearing crowd. My peoples!