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My first race, and it HAD to rain! (longish)(4 posts)

My first race, and it HAD to rain! (longish)jtkirk15
May 27, 2003 5:24 AM
I did Bike Jam in Baltimore on Saturday afternoon. There was a light mist during the race and all day leading to it. The race was only 10 miles for Cat 5 (9 laps). The course was pretty sweet - downhill from the start, eventually into a sweeping lefthand turn, and then into an immediate 120 degree to the right "chicane" that was a tight fit. Then down the backstretch to an uphill rise to the finish line. 50 riders started the race.

I took up cycling last summer. Joined a team in the fall. This past winter I wimped out due to the weather and didn't ride at all. So leading up the this race I had 5 months off and 6 weeks on the bike. I felt strong though. My goal was to finish with the pack. After doing a couple of warmup laps I got to the start line later than most. I started in the back and this was my first mistake. At the start there was plenty of bumping and grinding for position. Before I knew it we were rolling along at 30mph. I was quite nervous knowing the chicane was coming up. I teammate told me to stay to the left and I would be fine. Perfect advice!! I made it through the chicane without a problem and I was sitting about 2/3rds back. I was riding comfortably for the first 3 laps. The next trip past the announcer brought us a prime lap. Now the boys up front let loose and took off. Second mistake was not improving my position early in the race. I got stuck behind some guys who couldn't handle the increased pace and before I knew it the pack opened a gap. I decided not to get lapped so I put forth max effort. As with most Cat 5 races, we were unorganized. Not until lap 8 (of 9) did the 4 riders who were with me decide to get a paceline going. I turned the last lap into a race with those around me and won (ahh, the smallest victories!!).

I finished the race in 31st place and I didn't get lapped (only 10 miles so that would have been sad). I didn't wreck and I didn't finish DFL. I beat 40% of my competitors and my average speed was 24mph.

I look at this positively. I learned a valuable lesson to make up ground in the pack early when you have the adrenaline flowing and you can draft easily. I also learned that I need to work on maintaining cadence for the climbs as this slowed me down drastically and sucked energy.

The race hurt like hell but I enjoyed it. Wished I had done better. My next race is the Quicksilver Crit in Sterling, VA on June 7th. I hope to have a better showing.

Sorry this has been so long and poorly written. I enjoy the race reports others share and I wanted to contribute mine. I've learned a lot on this board. Thanks!!
re: My first race, and it HAD to rain! (longish)Spoiler
May 27, 2003 2:01 PM
That's a pretty good experience for a first race. Lots of people wind up DNF and not learning a thing.
First race, rain, first crash (also long)Stampertje
May 28, 2003 2:00 AM
I also did my first race last Saturday. It was our team's club race, so there were only 11 guys at the start. Still, the circuit was so short and narrow that this was probably a good thing. It had rained at night and was drizzling until the finish laps - we raced 60 minutes plus 5 laps.

The circuit in question is a dedicated half-mile loop tucked away somewhere on the outskirts of Nijmegen. It has two turns, both with a nasty little bump right after - just enough to force you out of the saddle. The first of the two turns suddenly gets a lot tighter near the end and caused a lot of swearing. There's an extension loop but we decided not to use that because the turns are apparently even more dangerous.

We started with three neutral laps and then I quickly found myself near the back as I didn't have the nerve to force my way to the front with those turns coming up every quarter mile. The pace never really picked up, though, even for the first preem after 15 minutes. As I was still at the back I didn't contest it but by that time I was changing my race goal from "finish with the lead group" to "when are we going to race"?

At the 30 minute mark I was close enough to the front to take 2nd in the preem sprint and I even tried to break away twice after that, but as everybody knew I was one of the weakest riders in the group they didn't care, let me get my 200m gap and waited for me to come back disillusioned and winded two laps later.

Just inside the 60 minutes the group had been reduced to 8, one of whom was a lap down - the others had mostly given up because of mechanicals. I was in the last wheel going into the nasty turn and overshot it, almost ended up in the grass, overcorrected and flew over the bars! I picked myself up and tried to chase back on, then heard at the start/finish that I could take a free lap. I was back on with only the 5 finish laps remaining but there was no way I was going to take anymore risks in the turns - not that it mattered because I can't sprint anyway. In the end, I did pass one other guy, finishing 6th.

Final conclusions: I was a bit disappointed, since I had expected a harder / more interresting race. On the other hand, I met my pre-race goal, got my first crash out of the way and discovered my biggest weak spots (cornering in a fast group and top-end speed). Next one is on June 15, but I'll be hung over so I'm not setting my expectations too high :)
My "attacks" are much the same...TFerguson
May 28, 2003 11:02 AM
I almost have to laugh out loud when I go screaming off the front with everything I have and hear one of the front guys say in a slow, dry tone, "Let him go."