Yes, I actually did something I said I would never do on a road bike. I raced a crit race. I have always pictured them with me ending up covered in road rash. I am glad to say that my worries did not happen at this race. Not everyone can say the same, but I am very happy that it was not me. But, not to say that it will never happen if I would decide to do it again some day. I did have some fun and learned some that would help me if I would decide to toe the line again. Even though I didn’t know what I was doing, I was part of a great team that sure looked like we did. Well, some of us knew more than others, but it was still good to ride with several teammates. It sure made the day a little less stressful.
The plan was to enter the Cat 5 race and see how it went. What happened was that I was talked in to also entering the Cat 4/5 race. It was not that much more money and I figured what the heck. it would make the amount per race and I figured more riding would be better. I had just hoped that I didn’t hit the deck in the first race and waste the money for the second. It turns out that it was not exactly wasting money on both races, but I didn’t as much out of my dollars.
I was a little nervous as I was getting my stuff ready. I had to figure out where all the stickers were to be placed and how to mount up the number plate to my jersey. Actually I kind of knew how it went more than a few others since I have done a road race before. After my stuff was ready, I headed out to check out the course. After a few laps, I was feeling pretty good about being able to handle the corners and all of the road sections. I thought I knew where the bad sections were and what to avoid. I later found out it really didn’t matter if I knew where they were if I was going to hit them anyway. I hit some pot holes and dips that I thought was going to put me down a few times, but some how held on.
I lined up near the back, but knew that was not where I really wanted to be. I have heard about the accordion effect and can completely understand how that will play out. As much as I wanted to stay back there, when an opening was there, I took the opportunity to move up a little. As the start went, I got on quicker as the guys in front of me, so I had to try and not hit anyone. I moved up in the pack as I could with out trying too hard. The hill was not as much of a problem as it seemed to be for the other guys. I was also surprised at how slow everyone went around some of the corners. This made it easy for me to continue to move up in the pack. I was feeling good and ended up not too far off the front. I was cornering with ease and the effort to climb the hill was not what I had expected. I tried to hold my own and just be happy with where I was. Up ahead Joseph was in the front and sat up and motioned us to move forward and help him. I was feeling good, so I thought what the hell. This was the first bad choice I made for the day. I felt good up there and pulled for a little over a lap.
The next thing I knew, I was starting to feel the effort of being up there and was looking to move back. Just as I knew I needed to move back, they announced it was a preem lap. So, I figured I would pull him a little longer and drop back. Well, I didn’t have to worry about dropping back. As we flew down to the river side I tried to take it easy since I knew I was going to move back. Then we hit the climb up the boat ramp. Out of no where my heart rate was way elevated and my legs just didn’t have it. I kept slowing down on the climb and as we crested the hill, everyone just pulled away. My race was over.
Well, my race should have been over. I kept pushing the pedals as I could thinking I could catch someone. Eventually I did catch a few guys, but it took a lot of effort to do so. Near the end of the race I started to think that I should not use that much energy and save some for the 4/5 race. I did slow down some, but my computer still had me averaging 21 mph. Slowing down got me to be lapped by the pack on the last lap. I really hoped to stay out, but it didn’t work out.
Not to name names (the same person who talked me into going to the front), but someone talked me in to joining for a warm up ride. It sounded like a good idea and I probably needed too. I didn’t realize just how far we were going or how hard we were going to go. Normally the effort would not have been that bad, but after what I did for the Cat 5 race, I really didn’t need to ride at 24-26 mph for as long as we did. To compound the problem, as I rolled back to the team tent, I saw a group of guys lining up at the start. They looked like the group I was supposed to be in. Yep, that is us. Dammit! I thought I would have a minute to gather my thoughts before the start and make sure I was ready. I was wanting to suck down another gel or two.
I made my way over to the start and tried to be as ready as I could. Soon enough we were on our way. Trying to use what I learned the first race, I was just going to get in the pack and try to conserve as much energy as I could. Some of the pace was a little faster then the Cat 5 race, but at the same time it seemed like we were slowing down a lot more for some corners. I actually felt like the group was more sketchy than the Cat 5 race. I just about rear ended a few guys because of how quickly the were braking. I tried to find a good place in the group to hang out. I thought I was doing a good job, but the rubber band was getting stretched out a lot on some sections and before I knew it, I saw the band break and the pack rolled away. My legs were toast. I was happy that I held on to the pack for 20 min., but figure if I did a few things different in the morning I could have gone longer.
I am not sure if I could have held on for the full race, but I am sure it would have been close. I just didn’t have it in the legs to match the accelerations out of the corners after we slowed down that much. I was surprised at how some people could not corner any better than they did. I have heard that most crits are not that tight and don’t have the hill. I really liked the course so maybe I won’t like a different one if I would give it another try. I did do one thing that I really wish I didn’t do. After I was lapped in the 4/5 race right at the end, I rode a little longer and then dropped out. I was hurting and it was easy to convince myself that is what everyone does. I saw a few other guys who dropped out and just thought that is what you do. I know at several other races you actually get pulled off the course when you get dropped. Maybe it is not really that big of a deal. Not sure if it made a difference in getting a finish place or a dnf, but where I was it really didn’t matter. It is not like I am going to series points or anything.
Overall it was a great experience that I will probably do again. It all depends on scheduling. It was a great day hanging out with everyone and crit racing is a great spectator sport. You get so see the racers going by all the time. It is not like some other races were you don’t see anyone for thirty minutes or more. I will have to keep an open mind about crit racing and make sure to put the races on the calendar next year so I can keep tabs. This weekend is the final Dino race at Southwestway. It is hard to believe we are hear already. I didn’t do as well for the season as I wanted to, but I did better than last year and can continue to improve. See you on the bike somewhere.