Quad Cites Criterium – Nope

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Yesterday was surprising in a lot of respects.  At least surprising for me personally.  I woke up after a bad nights sleep.  I was feeling pretty crummy and wasn’t looking forward to racing a hard, hot criterium.

But, that changed after I went out late in the morning to ride an hour to get my legs  woken up. I felt pretty great, like really great riding.  It was pretty windy and when I was riding back along the Mississippi River, nearly directly into the wind, I was going consistently over 20 mph without really trying.  That changed my mindset completely.

So, all of a sudden I started thinking of the race as a race instead of a survival/training day.  I really didn’t warm-up at all.  I rode down the hill a little over a mile and then a couple laps of the course and that was it.  It was going to be hot, at least hot compared to what I was used to, in the mid 80’s.  Plus, it was tailwind up the climb, which makes it just that much hotter.

The course is a little under a mile and is pretty much 1/2 up, with tailwind and then a headwind descent into a couple tight corners.  Then start all over again.

I didn’t warm-up because I’ve found that if I ride earlier, I can start fine, plus I wanted to keep my core temperature low.  There is no reason to be hot before a endurance sporting event.

I was called to the line, so didn’t have to mess with the rushing the line.  The race started super tame and pretty much stayed that way.  A few guys took off after a couple laps, but they never really got too far ahead.

I was feeling great.  I don’t think I am riding great, but feeling great makes riding uphill a lot easier.   I could pretty much move around at will.  I could tell after a few laps that a lot of guys were suffering towards the top of the climb.

Then a disaster.  The headwind made the descent pretty neutralized since no one really wanted to put in a lot of power at the front when everyone else was coasting behind them.  So it got bunched up at the bottom corner.

After about 11 laps, I was in towards the front, but sandwiched on both sides, when the guys taking the inside line swung a little wide, thus squeezing the outside line into the curb.  And that was it.  Someone fell and chaos.  A couple guys hit the curb pretty hard and I had a guy lying right in front of me.  I skidded into him, but didn’t flip.  Then a couple guys ran into me from behind and I did a tommy type tip over, but didn’t hit the pavement.

I was stuck and was a little worried about the guy I’d run into.  He didn’t look so good.  I asked him if he thought he was okay and he said he was just stuck at the bottom of the pile.  He sounded alright. I casually checked my wheels and made my way over to the finish stretch to take a free lap.

This is when it turned south.  I rode past the start/finish line and the official said I was done, along with about 10 other guys.  He said there wasn’t a free lap.  I was thinking, WTF?  I didn’t hear the head official announce at the start that there wouldn’t be a free lap.  I was staying with Tom Schuler, the race director and couldn’t imagine that he wouldn’t have a free lap on a course such as this.  It was less just a tad less that a mile around, with lots of places when people could have a mechanical and crash, obviously.

So, I just rode over to the house that Jeff Bradley’s team was using as a viewing area, sat in the shade and had a beer.  As luck would have it, Tom Schuler was there and I asked him why he didn’t have any free laps.  His flippant reply was, “For what, a mechanical?”  I just glared at him for a few seconds and walked away.  I knew that nothing that would be coming out of my mouth would have been appropriate for the situation.

Tom was a Pro, won the US Pro Road Championships, was on the 1980 Olympic Team, and even won Athens Twilight and Sommerville.  I wonder how many free laps he’s taken in his career? He knows good and well what a free lap is for.   Crashing in bike races is part of the deal and the free lap rule makes it so riders that have mishaps can still finish the race.  I’d like to hear Tom’s real explanation for not having one.

I was disappointed because I wanted to finish the race.  I wanted the race miles and efforts in the heat.  And I wanted to test myself against those guys when I could actually pedal good.  And I didn’t get to.  I only rode 30 minutes.

The field was already pretty small, about half of the 80-90 starters.  I could see by the faces of many of the guys still racing that they were suffering on the climb, in the heat.   And the field started dragging.

About the time I crashed, Grant Erhard, a young rider from St. Louis, took off on a nearly race winning move.  He soled the next hour, only to be caught a couple laps from the finish.  I know Grant from an early season road race last year, Froze Toes, where he outsprinted me for the win.  He was riding pretty good then and much better now.  He deserved to win the race, the field was so done, but that didn’t work out.

3 guys caught him and then spit him out the back with just a couple miles to go.  Josh Johnson, Bissell, ended up winning the sprint and the race.  Grant dragged in for a respectable fourth.

I didn’t really talk to any of the riders that finished after the race.  I would have liked to know if it just got so hot or the hill just got that much harder the last half of the race.  Everyone looked pretty beat.

The race is very good.  The spectators are there, and great.  Lots of house parties.  The course is fantastic, if you like hard criteriums, which I do.  It has an old time bike race feeling, which is refreshing.

All that is good, I’ve still never finished the new Quad Cities Criterium in Davenport.  I’ve paid $100 in entry and have ridden 10 or 11 laps.  That is about $10 a lap.  Plus, a broken hip, so I’d have to say that this hasn’t been my luckiest race.

At least I was feeling good.  I didn’t have a super amount of power, but feeling good is better than not.  And I’m not hurt, which is great.  Overall, the weekend went alright.  I wish I would have raced Muscatine now.  Saving energy isn’t what I needed to do.  I need race miles.

We packed up and drove the 6 hours back to Topeka.  It was storming the whole way back. Crazy lightening and heavy rain.  We got back around 2 am.  Man, the midwest has been getting pummeled this spring.  It is supposed to rain Thursday thru Saturday this week.  I hope, for Brian Jensen’s sake, that it isn’t raining on Saturday.  Saturday is Dirty Kanza and riding 200 miles on gravel, in the rain could be a nightmare.

The Tour of Kansas City starts Friday too.  This is the 51th year of this race.  It is a three day stage race, with a time trial on Friday night and then a hard circuit race on Saturday and a criterium on Sunday.    Raining for Cliff Drive on Saturday might be a challenge.  The course is great, but not so good in the rain.  There is one corner that is hard to get around when it is dry.

Okay, I need to get on to house painting now, while it’s dry.

I never got stressed during the 30 minutes I rode.

I never got stressed during the 30 minutes I rode.



The sprint was pretty close before the line.

The sprint was pretty close before the line.

Jeff Bradley's Trek shop's hangout.  Dennis is comfortable in the chair in the shade.

Jeff Bradley’s Trek shop’s hangout. Dennis is comfortable in the chair in the shade.



This was pretty much the whole drive back.

This was pretty much the whole drive back.

It's Dennis Kruse's birthday today.  He is 70.  Here he is with Hawkeye yesterday.

It’s Dennis Kruse’s birthday today. He is 70. Here he is with Hawkeye yesterday.




28 thoughts on “Quad Cites Criterium – Nope

  1. Clifford

    Man, Austin got pummeled terribly by those storms. Texas is really a mess right now. Also that free lap non-deal stinks.

  2. Bob


    Three things:

    1. You’re such good friends with Schuler that you stayed with him, but you couldn’t give him the courtesy of a man-to-man airing of your grievance re: free laps? Instead you pack up the van and drive home with a chip on your shoulder and blast him on the internet?

    2. Again, you such good friends with Schuler, but you take him to task for his experience that he should know better what the point of a free lap is. How long have you been racing bikes, Steve? Ever fucking read the rules of races you’re in? As someone else pointed out, they are clear as day: http://www.quadcitiescriterium.com/info/

    3, Quit fucking wearing WC strips on your jerseys in road events. You. Have. Not. Earned. Them.

  3. Bill K

    Even if there was in a “free lap” in the race, I thought that you actually had to hit the pavement to “officially” get a free lap.
    I guess that it depends on the officials. I’ve seen it both ways.

  4. Bob

    When the quad cities criterium used to be on the “cage match” course, they had this huge vinyl banner over the wheel pit…something about “mud and blood.”

    Anyone else remember that?

  5. Carl Sundquist

    “This is when it turned south. I rode past the start/finish line and the official said I was done, along with about 10 other guys.”

    As mentioned in another comment, the race flyer does say No Refunds/No Free Laps.

    What the flyer does _not_ say is that lapped riders will be pulled. What authority did the official have to tell you that you were “done”?

  6. Bob

    You are correct, but since Steve didn’t read the rules he thought he had all the time in the world to get to the pit. Probably was so far behind as to not care about that so much as not getting back in the race, in it to win it.

  7. gehry

    The rules on free laps have been often misunderstood for decades. The rules regarding them used to be pretty clear. Free laps aren’t just for crashes, flats or disintegrated components. They’re for “mishaps”. You really need to read the rulebook.

    It seems the rulebook now focuses on pits and verification of a mishap. However, I do know that 30 years ago, the qualifying “mishaps” were clearly identified in the book. Now they are not identified at all. That’s bad, as it lets an official arbitrarily decide what qualifies and what doesn’t.

    In 1985, I was a junior and rode a Cat3 race later in the day after the Jr. race was over. A huge crash happened right in front of me. Like a big pile of guys. I endo’d right into it and flipped over the bars and landed on a nice comfy cushion of riders. I was the only one from the pile of guys who emerged with sound mind and body. Lots of guys with just a few scrapes were bitching and moaning. Me? I picked up my unaffected bike and slowly rode to the pit. My head was fuzzy from my chin having smashed into some guy’s hard-shell helmet. The ref said “what do you want?” I said I’d crashed and needed a free lap. He looked at me and my bike and said “you don’t have a mechanical and you’re not injured. Where’s the other guys? No free lap”. I said “I have no idea why none of the other guys came with me. Read your rule book while I finish the race, and if I’m wrong, you go ahead and suspend me”. I did have a scrape on my chin where I’d bashed into the helmet. The ref kept telling me no while I re-mounted my bike. I yelled “push me back in and we’ll sort it out later. You can suspend me then!”. He pushed me back in, the rest felt AWESOME (try it guys… totally worth it!) and I ended up placing.

    I was right (of course). Crashing (itself) was listed as a legitimate mishap (in the rulebook of 1985). No mechanicals or injury were required.

    The problem with a lot of Cat 1/2/Pros is that they rarely read the race flyers. They just show up and race. It looks pretty clear here that there was no free-lap rule.

    On the stripes comment from elsewhere:
    I remember arguing with Kent Bostick about his wanting his entry fee waived from our race because he was the current national TT champion. I told him that the rulebook clearly states that you have to wear your stars and stripes to qualify for that. That and this was a road race, not a TT. He bitched and moaned to anyone who would listen until the baby got his way with the promoter.

  8. gehry

    3D5. Free Lap Rule. Riders shall normally cover the distance
    of the race regardless of mishaps and must make up any
    distance lost on their own ability unless a free lap is granted
    for mishaps. Unless the official race announcement states that
    no free laps will be allowed, one free lap may be granted for
    each mishap subject to the following rules. On courses
    shorter than 1 km, two free laps may be allowed for a given
    (a) Bicycle inspection and repairs must be made in an official
    repair pit. If announced in advance by the Chief Referee,
    riders are permitted to cut the course to get to a pit, but only
    while the Free Lap Rule is in effect. There should be repair
    pits at intervals of 1 km around the course.
    (b) There must be a referee stationed in each repair pit to
    determine if the mishap was a legitimate one and if the rider
    is entitled to a free lap.
    (c) A rider who is granted a free lap must return to the race
    in the position held at the time of the mishap. A rider who
    was in a group shall return at the rear of the same group the
    next time around. A rider returning to the race after a free lap
    shall be ineligible for sprint prizes for one lap thereafter.
    (d) A rider granted a free lap must re-enter the race before
    the final 8km of the race; after that point in the race a rider
    in the pit is losing ground on the field.

  9. gehry

    Silly boy. Refs are volunteers. If you ever suggest that they read their own rulebooks, they get really mad. Almost every ref working a criterium, automatically assumes that lapped or dropped riders are “done”.

    I’ve driven 500 miles to crits, got caught behind crashes 2 laps in, no pit offered, ended up off the back, and told to get off the course.

    A week later, this same team of refs would run a women’s race and a junior race on a criterium course at the same time. We’d lap the women’s field 2-3 times, and the refs would not give one damn about our safety.

  10. Lionel

    UCI General Organisation of Cycling as a sport

    When he no longer holds the title of world champion, a rider may wear rainbow piping
    on the collar and cuffs of his jersey, to the exclusion of any other equipment, as per the
    technical specifications in the brochure which will be sent to him by the UCI. However,
    he may wear such a jersey only in events of the discipline, speciality and category in
    which he won the title and in no other event.


    Thus, Masters world champions can not wear WC piping in Pro/1/2 races. Cyclo-Cross world champions can not wear WC piping in road races. Etc.

    In that same document:
    1.3.060 The right to the «rainbow colours» is the exclusive property of the UCI.
    And they make the rules as to how it can be used.

    National Championship piping is a different story and CAN be worn in different disciplines and categories.

  11. Anthony Geller

    You can’t be serious.

    3D3. The following are alternative methods for handling lapped riders or riders out of contention in criteriums. The method chosen by the Race Director with the Chief Referee must be clearly explained to the riders prior to the start of the race.
    (a) A rider who falls so far behind as to be considered out of contention may be removed from the race by the officials and may be placed according to the distance covered and placing amongst those pulled that lap.
    (b) Alternatively, lapped riders may be permitted to remain in the race and all will finish on the same lap as the leaders. At the finish, these riders will be placed according to the number of the laps they are down and then their position in the finish.

  12. Jeff D.

    Actually Steve walking away while he was upset/mad/disappointed was the best thing to do, that probably saved a long time of friendship.

  13. gehry

    I know the chief ref has the discretion to pull lapped or OO contention riders, but they have to communicate this. But for the same set of refs to one week state that any and all dropped riders are a danger to the peloton, and then a week later subject us to having to overtake entire lapped PELOTONS (and calling THAT safe) is just wrong.

    I also just don’t see the danger of having lone riders on the course simply because they’re alone.

    Have you ever had to ride in a peloton that is overtaking (and passing) another peloton?

  14. Franz

    I am sure I have done a crit without a free lap but I can’t think of when. I think it was when a lap was fairly long and approaching circuit length.

    This made me wonder how criteriums might change if their was no free lap. Would it change how the riders rode at all?

  15. Local Cager

    1. Why do you wear WC stripes in disciplines you haven’t earned them in?

    2. Why haven’t you ever called out Och / BMC?

    3. Why don’t you quit cycling, after all, you broke a bone a year ago?

    4. Why don’t you get a real job?

    Any post Steve makes, some washed up loser with an axe to grind makes one of the above statements. Every. Single. Time.

  16. Paul Boudreaux

    Great post Steve. Thanks for making cycling interesting for all us non “ex pros” out here. Beats the gibberish you read on cycling news or velonews. What kind of beer did you enjoy after the early exit from the race? I’ve always found an earlier than planned brew a nice consolation for a race wrecking mechanical, crash etc. Enjoying a Modus Hoperandi IPA as I write. I’m sure you’ll kick some ass next time out.

  17. gehry

    Seriously… Who gives a shit? Steve’s a former World champ. Those are stripes you EARN. I say “keep wearing them”. So long as he doesn’t use them to get special privileges such as waived entry fees, etc.

  18. Lionel

    The UCI seems to care. Since the meet is sanctioned, the chief referee should care and has the authority to not let him start the race dressed that way. USAC has specific rules as to what can and can’t be on a jersey for ALL riders, including piping; it’s not a free for all that’s up to the rider. Since the UCI says he did not EARN those stripes in a Pro Road race, then they say he can not keep wearing them. Sports are played by rules and Steve seems to have trouble reading all the rules. He should have been given documentation by the UCI when he won his World Championship that defined how he can represent the UCI colors AND it’s also always available on the UCI web site. I don’t know why it’s OK for Steve to be able to pick which rules he should be allowed to ignore. There are lots of other UCI rules that seem ludicrous and would not impact any results, but no one should be able to arbitrarily and emphatically be able to flaunt breaking them.

  19. gehry

    I remember when the rules dictated white socks (and you HAD to wear socks on the road), black mid-thigh shorts (and no colored side panels), etc. Logos and sponsorship had strict square-inch restrictions. The only thing missing was a rule requiring shaved legs! We’re still required to have sleeves (even on hot days).

    I understand that we can’t pick and choose our rules, but decades and decades later, we’re still left with some really idiotic and stupid rules.

    I’m all for WC’s and Olympic champions being able to wear sleeve piping in ANY sub-discipline of the sport. I’m cool with a prohibition on having it on the chest if it ain’t current.

  20. Tom Schuler

    Steve, someone told me you commented about your bad day at the Quad Cities Criterium this year so I have come to your blog to see what all the chatter was about.

    First, the race flyer clearly states NO FREE LAPS as is the case for each of the three criteriums on the Memorial Day weekend. You’ve raced this weekend many times in your career. Where your truly unaware that there were NO FREE LAPS for the weekend and the Quad Cities event in particular?

    Second, you got a front row call up and the race announcer again clearly stated ‘NO FREE LAPS’ and the head official verified this announcement to me after the race.

    Thirdly and most curious to me is that you completed about a third of the race before you were delayed by a crash and I would expect someone as experienced as yourself to take notice of where the pit was or wasn’t during those relaxed early laps. Did you really not notice that there was NO PIT anywhere on the .8 mile course and no officials standing in that pit? I cannot believe you didn’t notice this, incredible.

    Apparently you didn’t notice that there was no pit, and you didn’t read the race flyer and you didn’t listen to the race announcements at the start of the race because when you crossed the finish line after your mishap you barked the head official “Where is the pit? I want my free lap”


    The head official replied that ‘There is no pit and no free lap’ and after a brief discussion between you and the head official the pace car came barreling around the final corner and the head official told you that you were done for the day. Sorry about that.

    I am sorry for you that you made some judgment errors on the day that led you to misunderstand the rules and protocols for the race. Again, I would expect someone of your racing experience not to make this kind of rookie mistake.

    Every year that I raced in my career, I came to appreciate more and more the job that officials, race promotors and volunteers do to give bike racers a fair, safe and enjoyable experience. Now as a race promotor myself I appreciate the sacrifice and hard work that officials and volunteers put into each and every event that we are lucky enough to enjoy and participate in.

    Later that day, at the celebratory race party, I was sitting at a table talking to the president of the Quad Cities Bicycle Club and his wife and young son who had each just finished putting in a long day of volunteering. We were talking about what a great day it had been for the Village of East Davenport and for the race, it really was a fantastic day. Out of the corner of my view I heard someone yell across the front yard “Tom, why no free lap”. I turned and saw you still in kit looking desperate for an immediate answer.

    Really? Is that how you address someone you have known for as long as I have known you. You got to be kidding me Steve.

    I would have appreciated it if you walked over to the table, sat down with us and asked me that question so we could discuss it as adults. Or we could have talked about it at a more appropriate time. Is that too much to ask?

    If you really want to know why we didn’t have a free lap I would be glad to discuss it with you, there are plenty of good reasons if you really want to know. You have my number and know how to get hold of me.

    In the meantime, please give some respect to the hard working race officials, race promotors, and volunteers by taking full responsibility for your behavior at the Quad Cities Criterium.

    Tom Schuler


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