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So, yesterday I see this guy at his first race whom I've(13 posts)

So, yesterday I see this guy at his first race whom I'vebill
May 20, 2002 7:00 AM
ridden with at a local club's regular Sunday ride. He started cycling in January, he says, wants to try some racing, so here he is. It's actually the first race (ever) for both of us, but this story really isn't about me.
It's a category 5 race -- no 4's. Field of about 50 riders. 14 loops, fifteen miles.
I say to him, you know, you shouldn't be so nervous, because you're going to win this race. He looks to see if I'm kidding. I'm not. I remember that he was maddening in this rotating double paceline (that included a number of Cat 3's), because I was on his wheel, and he always would (a) pick up the pace, and then, when he rotated off to the second line, (b) wouldn't drop back, so that I would have to pick up the pace to get my own a** off of the front before I died. He is strong. I also remember one of the Cat 3 guys recounting that our hero had "thanked [the Cat 3] for the lead out," the joke being that the Cat 3 wasn't trying to lead anyone out; he was just sprinting.
He is strong. I bet him $5 that he would win.
So, we take off. I'm behind a bunch of guys from one team, fairly near the front. I figure that I'll just pretend that I'm one of them and hope no one notices. Turns out to be a wasted thought, because they quickly disbanded and fell back -- so much for team tactics in a Cat 5 race.
Nice pace. No crashes. Loving the whir of the wheels -- the train really makes a nice sound. Occasional surges to catch an occasional (always solo, always doomed) break. I was pleased that I had the legs to move around in the pack where I wanted to be -- move up on the sides, oops, get caught in the middle, where it's a little too comfortable, especially because the leaders don't have the strength to really lead or the brains to get off. Back to the sides, move up. Catch that train. Not knowing what to expect, wanting to save some. Trying to pick the right wheel. Don't really know what to expect -- but, this is fun. Remember, though, if I ever want to do this again I've got to get home in one piece; if I get hurt, the wife'll teach me about hurt.
Of course, the right wheel turns out to be our hero. I had to fight for it a couple of times, which was fun, in itself. Just feeling how the other riders respond to your holding your line assertively. It was great fun, actually. For me, my highest position was about fifth (meaningless, of course). Big difference between being in a pack and being in the little pointy paceline at the front. Just having fun. Turn, sprint up, close that gap, take that train. It was cool.
I'm not really sure what happened, but with about four laps to go, I'm suddenly no longer behind the right wheel, and I'm boxed in the middle, and despite my earlier reassuring strength, I no longer have the legs to make the same aggressive moves to maintain the position I want (a bit of oxymoron there, but remember, my goals are really to experience it and get home in one piece for the wife's barbecue).
Where is our hero? Moving around in about the three to five position. Not only strong as sh*t, but playing it smart. My $5 is looking pretty good.
The final sprint is uphill into the wind. I am now about mid-pack, where I crossed the line.
Our hero? I saw him cross the line about 40 yards ahead with one other rider. Took a photo to confirm it but -- first place.
I hope to get a couple more races in with him until he moves up to Cat 3.
My best excuse? He's doing his first race at 23. Me, I'm 43. Weak, but it's all I've got.
There's more good writing about racing in this post...Me Dot Org
May 20, 2002 7:17 AM
...than a single issue of Bicycle magazine. A nice story, well written. Sounds like your 23 yr. old friend is bound for a some good times....
There's more good writing about racing in this post...davet
May 20, 2002 7:53 AM
I agree about the writing. It's clear, lucid and makes great mental images of the sights and sounds of the race. Maybe the writer should submit something to Bicycling mag. I would sure like to read some more of him.
There's more good writing about racing in this post...dust
May 20, 2002 11:21 AM
Bicycling would NEVER publish it. Writing like this would make their writers look far to elementary.
Average speed for the race? (nm)Bruno
May 20, 2002 7:49 AM
Like, 24.3. All but one turn was not very tight. I was toldbill
May 20, 2002 8:17 AM
that it was good for beginners, and it is. The only tight turn was right into the uphill, into the wind sprint. So, the more you slowed for the turn, the more work you had to do up the hill. If you took the turn tight on the inside; you really could pop out on the uphill and, if you were so inclined, change position rapidly. According to my computer download, on the downhill on the other side we were going 30 plus, on the uphill just over (except for one or two laps under) 20.
Thanks, well done. nmDaveL
May 20, 2002 8:12 AM
sounds like you deserve congtats too, first race and all n.m.koala
May 20, 2002 9:59 AM
Looks like we have a writer amongst us.Lowend
May 20, 2002 11:18 AM
Great Story.
re: So, yesterday I see this guy at his first race whom I'veJames A
May 20, 2002 12:08 PM
That was a great course yesterday, wasn't it? I was lined up on the front with the NCVC guys and expected them to kick it from the beginning. They faded quickly. I wish more races were like this one because it definately hooked me on road racing and crits in general.

Take Care and Good Luck!
re: So, yesterday I see this guy at his first race whom I'veMr Good
May 20, 2002 3:43 PM
Racing is fun, isn't it?

Keep on racing! It sounds like you're having fun, and from the tone of your well-written piece, you have the right additude to keep racing: keep it safe, adn enjoy it for what it is.

Experience counts for a lot, in terms of positioning in the pack and placing at the finish. (Of course it helps to be a super-strong 23 year old, too!) You will find endless training advice to make your body stronger, but not much talk about something equally important: positioning in the pack in the last 1000 to 100 meters. Pay attention to the tactical games at the end; leave yourself an "out," instead of getting boxed in (even if you have to ride on the outside).

You may find yourself wanting more and coming back every weekend--welcome to the club!
Very cool, indeed!! Thanks!AllisonHayes
May 20, 2002 7:10 PM
You captured the feel and the sounds and the tension ever so well. Plus, you threw in a great story as a bonus.

Terrific story!
re: So, yesterday I see this guy at his first race whom I'veRCole
May 20, 2002 9:15 PM
Never raced before but you really made me live it. - Awesome job.