Race report

The bad news: I didn’t finish the race. The good news: I feel okay about that.

It was a cold, blustery day, just what one would expect for March, and it was only at the last minute that I unwillingly took off my jacket so my race number would show. There were somewhere around 18-20 racers in my field, including one teammate, a woman who is at least a Category 3 racer, or maybe Category 2 by now, which means that she’s won some races and has done very well. I recognized a couple other faces from other teams.

The first lap was fine until the bottom of the hill that comes at the end of the course (it’s around .8 mile long), when someone attacked and the pack took off. That set the tone for the rest of the race — there were lots of attacks and lots of slowing down and speeding up; I felt like I was always either hitting the brakes or accelerating madly.

I really suffered on the hill. I’d work my way up toward the front of the pack on the flat stretches, and then watch people pass me on the hill. A few times I had to work hard to catch up to the pack when we headed back downhill. Must do more hill work.

So, the race was 22 laps, and I hung on for 13 of them. I might have lasted longer, but on lap 13 the official rang the bell that indicates a prime lap — which means the first one across the line at the end of that lap wins something, possibly money or cycling gear. So everyone took off, and I spent that lap trying to keep up with them. By the time we reached the hill I hadn’t yet caught them, which meant it was over, as there was no way I could catch them heading uphill. I rode another lap on my own and quit.

Some of the other riders fell off the back at the same point I did, and they kept riding on their own or in a small group and finished the race, but I have a really hard time continuing to ride once I’ve fallen behind. I don’t see the point, really, as I don’t need to struggle along for miles on my own to get 20th place or something like that. And it’s so hard to ride out there on your own when it’s so windy. In the pack you can draft, of course, but on your own, it’s you against the wind. It’s no fun.

So I got a good workout — I stayed with the pack for about 30 very intense minutes — and I did better than I was afraid I might. The last time I rode in this particular race, I lasted three laps before I got dropped. This was better at least.

What worries me, though, is that our pace was pretty slow — 20 mph — which is a pace I should be able to keep up on that course. During the races last year I started off at 21 mph and worked my way up to 25. The wind might have been a factor, though, and the fact that we had a small pack. I could draft, yes, but there weren’t that many bodies to block the wind.

I also think that the races coming up could be a lot harder than this one was. I have no way of knowing, but other, faster women might show up next week who weren’t there today, and that would change the dynamic completely. I feel like if I rode with these same women again I could probably do better, but against a tougher field, I might not.

Anyway, that’s what happened. It was fun, and I’m looking forward to getting in even better shape over the next few weeks.

9 Comments

Filed under Cycling

9 responses to “Race report

  1. Dorothy, I couldn’t even BEGIN the race, let alone finish it! What you do is amazing, and I am in awe of you.

  2. I think you did very well, and as long as you’re happy with your riding that’s all that matters. It sounds as though you have a very healthy attitude about racing and aren’t all hung up on having to accomplish something (and if you don’t are hard on yourself). Somehow I imagine this must be a more pleasant experience when it’s a tad bit warmer, too!

  3. Thank you Litlove! I appreciate the encouragement!

    Danielle — thanks, I do try to have a healthy attitude, and being an uncompetitive person definitely helps! And yes, it will be so much more fun when it’s in the 70s as opposed to the 30s! But the races will also be faster and harder at that point too …

  4. Cold and windy is no fun. But in spite of that it sounds like you did pretty well. I think you deserve more credit than you give yourself. I’m sure in next week’s race you will do even better.

  5. Congrats on being out there in the windiness. I thought of you and all the others at Bethel yesterday. I did a few hill repeats on the steep and nasty Ash with my teammate Lisa. Fun times! I hope you can come down into the city for the Grant’s Tomb crit.

  6. I’ve faced cold, wind, rain, etc. It is hard to stay motivated in those conditions. Also, your synovial fluids function better when it is warm. If your joints aren’t well lubed, everything gets a little tougher. Don’t beat yourself up: get your head into the next race; you’ll do fine!

    When I did races they were really rides. Your races sound like real races. Go for it!

  7. Well congrats on doing better than the last time and on getting such a great workout! I hope your next race is even better.

  8. LK

    Bravo for you, Dorothy! For hanging in and for feeling good about how you finished. You keep pedalin’!

  9. Stefanie — thank you, and I do hope I do better … and that it will be warmer :)

    Fendergal — when is that crit? It sounds like it could be fun.

    Bikkuri — oh, yes, it’s so much harder to ride in the cold! Surely not very good for my joints … and yeah, these are real races. I think I’d prefer those rides you mention!

    Iliana — thank you! Improvement is definitely nice.

    LK — thank you! Keeping it fun is important to me — otherwise it would be way too hard.

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