I've dabbled here and there with a little mountain bike racing and cyclocross, but today was my first road race. I've been hesitant to get involved for a few reasons:
-My general understanding that road racers are elitist ******.....just didn't want to have anything to do with that.
-Fear of crashing on asphalt while traveling at 25mph. Didn't want to deal with that, either.
-Underlying fear that I would get dropped. Wouldn't be so bad, but would be discrouraging.
I definitely learned a lot during the race today, and the most powerful lesson was that it was completely detatched from all my preconceived notions and worries regarding racing. Being that it was CAT5, everyone I came across seemed to be relatively cordial. There were a few bumps and rubs during the race, but rubbin's racing, eh? I also got advice from a few guys during the race that I should speak up when I'm passing, slowing, etc. Turns out the race seemed to have a very friendly vibe, albeit in a very domestic, suburban way. It also turns out I did not get dropped, and actually rode up near the front most of the race. There was a generally brisk pace with a few periods of sluggish crawling that I still don't understand- a definite elastic effect throughout the whole race. Nice, though, as it afforded a chance to take a breather and a swig from the 'ole water bottle. I just can't get over the awesome feeling of riding in the middle of a group of 54 guys traveling that speed, must be what it would feel like to be a bull running with its heard.
As for the details of the race itself, you've all heard the story before, so I won't bore you too much.... but here's a condensed recap:
44 miles, 4 laps of 11 miles each around Hagg Lake just outside of Portland. Averaged ~21.5mph. It's been raining here for a while, but let up today. The road was still pretty wet, and I got to taste a lot of muddy road-grime. At the end of the race my Cinelli looked like it had just finished a mountain bike ride through Gale's Creek. Anyways, 54 riders in my CAT5 group, most looked really strong. The last lap was where it was at, speed increasing to a lactic acid inducing, quad sharpening pace. The finish was at the top of a 500 meter climbing sprint. I can climb, but can't sprint too well. Passed a few who couldn't climb, but got passed by a few who sprinted to glory better then me. Ended up 22nd out of 54, I'll accept that for my first road race. Still, that feeling's still bugging me that when I was done I realized my legs weren't completely dead, which means I could have pushed it harder. Oh, well- there's always next race...I'm hooked.