Wednesday, June 20, 2007

My first Crit!

A little secret here. I purchased a racing license a while back, like March or so. Until today I've always come up with an excuse not to use it. Today was the day I ran out of excuses. I'm glad I did. This was definitely an experience.

The crits are sponsored by Team Bicycles Inc. this year. It's a pretty good set up, and not too far from the house. I rode over as a warm up, checked in to get my number (I was in the C race with the Cat 4's and 5's), and took a few laps around the track to keep warm and to get a layout for the course.

It's a 1.7 mile loop with gentle bends and not too many elevation changes. I got to the start line right as the race started (for the record it started about 5 minutes early). I wasn't quite ready for the start, so I was immediately behind. A gap of about 5 bike lengths from the start. Of course, since this was my first race I wasn't sure what to expect, and frankly I was a little nervous. Let me tell you it's not like the charity rides I've done in the past. These boys started off fast and stayed that way. For the first loop I averaged 24 mph, and they shelled me off the back quicker than peel and eat shrimp at an all you can eat buffet. I certainly didn't expect those guys to be as fast as they were!

I tried to gain some ground in the second lap, but somehow a car got onto the course and decided to go 15 mph. I actually had to hit my brakes so I wouldn't run into the back of him. Unfortunately, there is a center line rule in effect so I couldn't pass the auto. The other unfortunate thing was that I had to follow him about halfway around the course. When he finally turned off I poured it on. I can't tell you how fast I was going because this was the point where my computer quit working. The display froze at 23.5 mph and didn't change for the rest of the race. Since they were so far ahead of me, my goal was to just finish. I tried to push my frustration aside and make up as much ground as I could.

Eventually, around lap 4, the leaders caught up to me and lapped me. I tried to tuck in behind them, but I was pretty much worn out by this point. Riding alone as long as I did, at the pace I did, with the wind against me had taken its toll. I was only able to keep up with them for about half a lap. Luckily I was able to finish without losing too much ground.

My observations about this ride:

First... I've never spent so much time in the big ring in my life! Wow, that was an experience in itself. 53x12 will definitely wear you out!

Second... 12 miles doesn't seem like much when you're getting in some training miles. However, in a crit... it's a whole different experience.

Third... The six mile ride from home is more than enough of a warm up for me. Especially when it's 90 degrees with 70% humidity outside. The two additional laps I took when I arrived to stay warm were probably overkill.

Lastly... I need to muscle my way up to the front in the very beginning and do everything in my power to stay there. It's much easier to cruise at 27-28 mph in a pack than it is to struggle behind on your own at 24 mph. Especially since I don't solo at 24 mph often... make that ever!

Also, a special thanks to my cheering section. It's always nice to see a friendly face at something like this, and I had several in the crowd. Micah, Carola, and their kids just happened to be there to watch the crits and they became my own little fan club. They really helped out. The last two laps were agonizing for me, especially since I had been lapped by the main group. I wanted to quit so badly, but every time I went past the line they were there cheering me on. I just couldn't give up and let them down. It's too bad Sharon and Gracie couldn't have gotten there earlier, I would have loved to have seen them at the finish line. However, their train didn't get in early enough. Oh well, maybe next time. I do appreciate them picking me up and giving me a ride home though.

Next week I'll be more prepared!

1 comment:

Michael P. said...

Good job man! North of 25 in a Cat 5 race?! Dang, I have a ways to go if I am going to be able to compete with those guys. I am way impressed with your performance. I wouldn't have been able to do that. Great write up. I had always been pretty in the dark about the nitty gritty of crits.

P.S. I hope you are doin well. I miss everyone in Fort Worth. I am planning on making it to a brewery ride. I will let you know so that you will be there. :)