Sunday, May 27, 2012

Ault Park, IA

Out on the crit circuit again today at the Melon City Crit in Muscatine, IA. The race is held in Weed Park on the banks of the Mississippi River about halfway between the Quad Cities and Burlington, IA, but somehow the course seemed very familiar to racing back home in Cincinnati.

Weed Park contains a loop of pavement very reminiscent of Ault Park in Cincinnati. For those not familiar, Ault Park is a kilometer oval inside the 275 loop of Cincinnati that has both an uphill and a downhill as well as a small stretch of flat ground that you almost never realize is actually flat. You reach speeds of 35-40 mph at times downhill, jump a couple of small pavement seams at the bottom, and try to keep your heart in your mouth up the hill. Rinse, repeat, do it 40 times and call it a night.

The length of Weed Park is long, but the loop is eerily familiar. The first half is downhill, reaching the edge of your speed nerves, then a bump at the bottom, and a longer climb back to the top to the finish. The biggest difference between the two is that everything is larger here and the tight chicane corner is before the finish instead of being after the finish.

Did I mention the bump? It isn't as much a bump as it is a speed hump - you know the ones you have to cross head to Ault Park that you can't see and nearly eject you while you are warming up when you forget they are there? Now you have the picture. Every lap you are hitting these things at 35 mph, many folks are catching air, some folks are pumping over it, but no matter how you look at it, you are hitting this thing hoping your friend next to you is better at landing a jump than Evil Kneivel at the Grand Canyon.

No matter how much I describe it, you won't really get it without a picture or two. I have inserted a few and will let you decide which you think are the best attempts. To keep it in perspective there were no crashes on the bump today. The bump may distract you, but this really is a fun course.

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