Well, the ST Bikes Memorial Day Criterium was my very first bike race. I've done countless tours and triathlons, 10k runs, swims meets, etc. Never a bike race. Well, Monday was the day. I signed up with a bike in parts, but needed to get a drop dead date on the calendar
I had three goals:
1) Don't get pulled
2) Finish with the lead group
3) Don't crash
I built an old Fuji Newest frame, with a DA9 gruppo I got for $250, bunch of left over parts I had boxed up, and stole the Ritchie deep section rims off my TT bike. I was ready (more or less) to race! I named it 'Parts'. Good name for a bike.
Got a decent warm-up in, stretched out a bit and headed for the starting line. Lots of nice bikes, and me on Parts. Full field of 50, numerous teams, lots of unattached riders too. The whistle goes and the pack takes off. I'm somewhere in the middle. Got a good jump pace is brisk but we're not racing yet. Got a few laps in, off of the last turn into a straight the pace quickens. 100 yards off the turn in the straightaway to the line, someone grabs a handful of brakes, big crash. I barely miss it as it happened in front of me off to my left. I was close enough to see the looks on the poor guys face. we lost 6 there, and the pace really picked up from there.
On this lap, I was part of the front line, and we were going a bit slow, An unattached was coming on my right, I jumped on his wheel and we whipped up the pace a bit. Another guy jumped on my wheel and we really started to pull the group. I lead for almost two laps, then a sprinter got me at the line of the second. I was pretty tired after that, the adrenaline, the effort, all of it. I know they were jut letting the unattached guy take the punishment of the windy day, but I didn't care.
I yo-yo'd a lot. I'd get near the front at a hard pace, go into a corner and end near the back of the group, then get back to the frontish, etc. Last lap came and the pace really picked up, but I was still in the lead group, and that was my #2 goal. The last corner came, I wasn't going to contest the sprint, so I took an inside line, and just pushed hard. I didn't want to get tangled up fighting for 25th place or whatever. I was really surprised how well I felt, I stuck with the group, had my moments of recovery but was able to jump back up. Maybe I'm a bit more fit then I thought.
I had accomplished all 3 goals. So adding in a lap led, I had a stellar race. I had been riding in a good mindset. Allowing the race to do its thing, be fluid, while defending my position and making sure I wasn't getting bullied.
It was a blast and my legs hurt in places I didn't know I had. I'll do a another one this year for sure