Last week I got the awesome opportunity to race on of the “classic” races here in the U.S. talk to any race from the last twenty years, and surely they have raced or know someone who has raced Boise. I have heard stories about this race for ages, mainly stemming from the huge number of cash primes, and fast aggressive racing and barely lit streets. In fact, I even remember seeing some of it on TV on year and being blown away at people racing in near darkness. Needless to say, I jumped at the opportunity to race Boise. This year it was part of the NRC calendar as well as the USA Crit Series, meaning there was alot of money to be had, and a lot of pro teams who were planning to show up.
A long drive, with a stop for a ride in baker city, ended me in Boise where some of my teammates had been staying for the last couple of days. The organizer graciously put us up in one of the swankiest places in town, Hotel 43. I would highly recommend staying there if you ever visit Boise. After spending a few days riding some of the local staples like the “dump” route, and bogus basin (15 miles, 3500ft), Saturday finally rolled around.
The crit course was right out the front door of our hotel and we rolled out into the 100 degree heat to warm up. Crowds were already starting to congregate as some of the other category races finished their crits. After a brief spin with some of the teamates we headed back to stage for the race. To our surprise the field was relatively small with only about 80 racers toeing the line. Compare this to most NRC crits were the field size is often 150+ the starting line felt much less cramped than usual. However, what the field lacked in numbers it made up for in talent with several smaller “hit squads” from the major pro teams. The race was set to start at 8:30pm and after the usual fan fare and call ups from the star studded field, we were off.
The course was lined with and ever increasing number of well served spectators turning the course into one loud long string of faces and camera flashes. Every other lap we were either sprinting for primes or the bell was bringing run for a minimum of fifty dollars on the line. There were four “hot laps” during the race, where the first rider to cross the line, of the fastest of those four laps was awarded 1,000 dollars and if that wasn’t enough there was 15,000 dollars for the top 20. Needless to say the race was fast and aggressive all night.
As the sun faded behind the large buildings in downtown Boise, more and more drunk spectators hollered as we zoomed by. Luckily the corners were well lit, but we didn’t have that luxury on the straightaways and the shadows turned into complete darkness with about 15 laps to go. Your eyes would just about adjust only to go through the next spotlight lit corner and row of 15 camera flashes leaving you just about blind for the next straightaway.
Crit racers are fueled by adrenaline and cash and amazingly there were few crashes, but lots of contact as it was almost the only way to “feel” your way through the pack. With 10 to go Fly-V Australia took the reins and that was it, a perfectly timed lead out to land them first and second. By the end of the race the temperature had dropped to a cool 90 degrees, we showered and headed out to downtown Boise still completely buzzed from the adrenaline of racing.