As some may recall, I competed in my first crit race last Tuesday. It was such an enjoyable (read: incredible suffer-fest!) evening, that I just had to continue this week. This week marks the first race that points begin to accumulate for the series. I finished 16th of 25 riders last week, and my ambition was simply to improve on that placing, as well as garner some more valuable racing experience.
As opposed to last week, which was somewhat of a blur, this week I felt as if I saw the entire race. My average heart rate dropped from 175bmp to 169bpm, so that seems to be a sign that my anxiety level may have also dropped a bit relative to last week. There were several attacks throughout the race, but all were taken back into the field before the final sprint. I attacked the field early on 2 occasions in order to get a few MARs (most aggressive rider) points. However, as Iím learning, that sort of sprint effort exacts a toll for a few laps after the effort. Therefore, after those initial efforts, with the exception of helping chase down a few breaks, I sat in the field.
After the field reeled in the final breakaway, the race again came down to a field sprint. I did learn from my rookie mistake of last week. I made a conscience effort not to allow myself to get boxed in. I, instead got to the outside, and attempted to keep the wheel of one of the stronger riders. This strategy worked well. Coming out of the final turn, the sprint was on!
The pace was high, and there were about 6-8 riders ahead of me. I was still seated, and comfortable, but ready to pounce. Then, a racer just to my left jumped out of the saddle, and rocked his bike/body toward me, and gave me a bump in the process. My inexperience showed again, as I momentarily panicked, and stopped pedaling in an attempt to keep us both off the pavement. Of course, I lost all my momentum, and had to play catch-up to the line. I recovered relatively well, and almost passed the racer that gave me the slight punt. In the end, he pipped me by about a foot @ the line, but I still finished in 6th place. Perhaps Iím full of myself, but I really think I would have been in the top 3 had I not stopped pedaling @ the start of the sprint.
In the end, another lesson was learned, and I had a fantastic time to boot! I canít wait to do it all again next week!