Race report: two races, 53 miles, lots of fun

I did something today I’ve never done before — I rode in two races. I see other people doing this all the time, but usually I feel so beat-up after just one race that I can’t contemplate doing another. But my racing buddy said last week that doing two races would be a good challenge, and I thought, well, if she’s up for it, then why can’t I be too? Unfortunately she couldn’t race today, but I thought I’d give it a try on my own.

The first race is the women’s race, and it went well, although not quite as well as last week — I stayed with the pack the entire time, but didn’t get a top-20 finish. They only list the top 20 finishers, so I don’t know how I placed. Most of the pack stayed together the entire time, so the finish was a pack sprint, and I’m not terribly good at those, not having much of a sprint, and not liking to fight my way to the front of the pack. I’m just not aggressive enough to be a really good criterium racer. But still, it was a good race, and I worked hard, but not so hard I was in serious pain.

The second race was right after the first, with maybe a 20-minute break. It was a master’s race, which means in this case it’s for men 40 and older, but women are allowed to ride in these races and they can race ten years older than their real age, so my 35 years qualified me to ride. You might think that a race for older people would be easier, but that’s not true at all. In bike racing, years of race experience make you a much stronger rider — many people gain more from years of experience than they lose from getting older. Plus, people from any category can ride in the master’s races, so you’ll find category 1 riders (near pro) as well as category 4. Master’s riders are fast, and they know what they’re doing.

My initial plan was to ride 20-30 minutes, just to get a little extra workout and a few more miles. I rode 20 minutes and thought okay, I’m doing all right, no reason I can’t ride 30; once I reached 30 minutes I realized that the race was only going to last maybe 15 minutes more, so I thought, why not finish? It sounds so much better to say I finished than I rode for 2/3 of the race. So I hung on until the end.

I spent much of that race in a fog — I was watching what was happening, to stay safe and make sure I didn’t do anything stupid, but I got in this zone where I wasn’t really thinking about anything, where I was just hanging on, not even feeling any pain or much fatigue, just hanging on and watching the laps fly by. It’s an odd feeling. I expected to struggle, and instead I just settled in and rode.

Interestingly, while the master’s race was significantly faster than the women’s — 25 mph vs. 22 mph — it didn’t feel harder. What happens is that the bigger pack in the master’s race makes going faster a lot easier — there are more people to draft on, and I have more protection from the wind and more momentum going up the hill.

The 53 miles comes from the two races plus all the miles I rode warming up and cooling down. 37 of those miles were from the races. There’s a good reason I’m feeling so exhausted right now! But it’s a good kind of exhaustion.

Update: Here’s Hobgoblin’s account — we rode the master’s race together.

10 Comments

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10 responses to “Race report: two races, 53 miles, lots of fun

  1. Holy cow! That’s a LOT of racing!

    Glad to hear it went well.

  2. AWESOME!!! Excellent challenge and it sounds like you learned a lot about yourself and the sport. Keep up the good work.

    I have been searching for my heart for the last couple years. I need to find that fighting spirit somewhere, but it scares me when it comes out because I can so easily become obsessed with things. When I find the balance, I will be happy because the long solo rides through the countryside were always excellent for clearing my mind and organizing my thoughts.

    Congratulations again! You are an inspiration.

  3. Way to go Dorothy! Seems like having a racing buddy has been good for you even if she didn’t make it to these. I love your race reports.

  4. You should be very proud of yourself for finishing two races in one day. I can’t even imagine doing that!

  5. Yes, you looked terrific out there! Now to rest up for next week…

  6. Sounds like you really moved into the flow during that second race. Congratulations on your first time doing two races in one day!

  7. Well done.

    Just slightly off-tangent: what you said about the master’s race – where experience makes a cyclist stronger – it reminded me of Jeannie Longo-Ciprelli, the French cyclist who represented France in last year’s Olympics, when she was 49. I always wondered how she managed it.

  8. I’m impressed! I think it would take me all day to ride more than 50 miles! :) I was wondering how long you actually spent riding, but it sounds like it was over in just a few hours? It must feel very good to accomplish these things!

  9. Bardiac — thanks! It was a lot, and I’m still recovering from it … but it was so much fun.

    Thank you Bikkuri! I’ve become completely obsessed with cycling, but for me, it doesn’t have anything to do with a fighting spirit — it’s more about just loving to ride. Dealing with competitiveness can be hard, though, I know.

    Stefanie — yes, having a racing buddy has definitely been a very good thing. Our riding is similar enough that we can really push each other well, and at the same time, we aren’t competitive with each other, so it works very well.

    Lisa — thank you! I’m glad I tried it, and I definitely feel a sense of accomplishment. And now I can think about doing it again!

    Debby — thank you! It was great to have you there watching. I leaving the resting up until closer to the next race — let’s hope I leave myself enough time!

    Jenclair — thank you! And yes, I like that flow experience — it’s a great aspect of cycling.

    Dark Orpheus — I didn’t follow Jeannie Longo-Ciprelli’s story, and I should have. But yes, that is truly inspirational. I hope I’m still riding and racing at her age and beyond! (but not at her level, obviously!)

    Danielle — the two races were about 45 minutes each, and then I spent another hour warming up and cooling down, so it was about 2 1/2 hours. I just rode another 50 miles today, and it took almost 3 hours. I definitely don’t think it would take you all day to ride that long — it wouldn’t be too hard to ride, say, 12 miles an hour, and that means it would only be 4 hours!

    Emily — thank you!

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