The upcoming race season: a cycling post

I got home just a little while ago from a 37-mile bike ride that felt like it was at least 50.  It was a good ride, just very hilly and therefore slow, and I was convinced at one point that I was lost, and so I spent at least 20-30 minutes in a panic, certain I would have to turn around and retrace my route, which would involve climbing up more hills.  I didn’t, thank heavens — I eventually came to a place I recognized and realized I was on the right route all along.  But that kind of experience makes a ride feel much longer.

The race season begins next Sunday, and I have no idea how ready I am.  I’ve been riding regularly through the winter, but not terribly intensely — which I think is how I should be riding; the intensity can come later.  The problem is that the race season here begins ridiculously early.  I’m torn between wanting to be ready for the first race so I don’t embarrass myself horribly, and worrying about working so hard I get burnt out.  If I ride too intensely now, I won’t leave myself enough room to add intensity later.  But if I don’t ride intensely now, I’m running the risk of not having enough strength to finish the first races.

I rode with my cycling club yesterday; they were practicing race tactics to get ready for next week, doing things like working together to catch a sprinter who’s made a break from the pack.  I didn’t actually directly participate in these drills, as I’m not strong enough; I just rode at the back of the pack, trying my best to stay with everybody.  This could be an indication that I’m not ready to race, but it was a mixed group — some beginners and some more advanced riders (categories 4 and 5) — and so I still don’t know how I match up against riders in my category.  There were other guys who looked about as tired as I was.

As usual, I was the only woman in the group; there is at least one other woman in my club who races (and maybe more, depending on whether a couple new people decide to give it a try), but she doesn’t train with the guys much.  There will be a women’s race next week, but I’m not going to ride in it — the women’s race is usually very fast because women of all levels ride in it, whereas the men’s race I’ll ride in is limited mostly to newbies, and so a bit slower.  That was a lesson I learned very well last year.

So who knows.  I’ll give it my best shot next week, but if I don’t do well, that will be okay, because it’s the beginning of the season and I have plenty of time to get myself into shape for races later on.

And the real truth of the matter is that I race because I like riding and I want a challenge.  I don’t care much how well I do.

7 Comments

Filed under Cycling

7 responses to “The upcoming race season: a cycling post

  1. I’m sure you’ll do fine in your first race. You’ve been working harder this winter so you’re already starting off better than last year. You’ll do better than you expect but not as well as you hope, and with each race you will improve. I’m looking forward to hearing all about it :)

  2. I second what Stefanie said. maybe you could look at the first few races as “rough drafts” of what ‘s to come – knowing you have lots of opportunity to revise your performance throughout the season?
    Okay, I’ve been spending entirely too much time thinking about writing this morning…

  3. I don’t know how you manage to go so far and not get lost more often! I’m very glad you found the way back ok – it must have been very panic-inducing.

  4. LK

    Every time I see bikers, I think of you and the BikeProf, pedaling away.

    Best of luck in the upcoming season.

  5. Thank you Stefanie — if I stay in the race longer than 3 laps or so, I’ll be doing better than last year, so that’s not too hard!

    Courtney, I like that, races as rough drafts. These early races are meant to be training races, so that analogy works perfectly.

    Litlove, I generally do the same loops over and over, because when I try something new, it’s dangerous! The Hobgoblin is much better with directions; sometimes I make him ride with me so I won’t get lost (not that he minds, actually, but I’m much slower …)

    LK, thank you! I’ll certainly let you know how it goes.

  6. I think as long as you enjoy what you do, who cares how you finish. I suppose it depends on how competitive you are–maybe you can compete against yourself–try to better your own times. How often do you race? Starting in March and going through to the fall is a pretty long season!

  7. Danielle, you’re right! And I do enjoy it, so that’s what matters. I’ll be racing for the next six Sundays (excluding Easter), and then after that, it’s maybe once a week or once every other week. There’s a series of Tuesday night races that run from May through August, although they aren’t official USCF races. So I have lots of chances to practice!

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