After a snap decision last week to give racing a go I headed out to Lafayette for my first crit this morning. Coming over the Bay Bridge from the ultra-foggy city it started to clear up and by the time we were through the Caldecott tunnel it was beautiful. We parked and I got checked in a little later than I would have liked, but with a delay and being the first race I still got a pretty decent warm-up on the course itself. With the feel of the super smooth, recently re-paved road, and a great night's sleep behind me I felt pretty good.
With a six or seven lap warm up on the course I felt pretty good about the two kind of tricky turns and after we got underway they didn't give me any trouble. The pace from the start seemed was pretty tame and I managed to sit in the middle of the pack pretty comfortably.
However, after a few laps the pace heated a bit and after six or laps or so I found it harder and harder to stick to any given wheel. Tried as I might whenever the smallest gap opened up in front of my someone would pull in and take the wheel I was desperately trying to hold.
I bailed myself out after eight and a half laps(~17 mins and the halfway point), rather than getting whistled off. I cut up across a side street just in time to see the pack a half lap ahead of me.
All in all I'm pretty disappointed I didn't finish, much less stick to a wheel and hold on a bit longer. However I'm not being too harsh on myself. It was my first race, and while I had some idea of what to expect I didn't really have any idea how I'd stack up. I don't think I made any huge tactical or technical errors. I tried to stick to one wheel and maintain a position in the middle of the pack. I didn't hop around a lot and waste a lot of energy. I took the corners fast and didn't have to make up much, if any, lost speed.
At the end, after some guys got dropped in the first few laps, it was me and another much older guy sucking my wheel for a two and half laps a quarter lap behind the group. I got frustrated that I couldn't shake the older guy and make up the gap, but even if I was able to pull off that minor miracle I wouldn't of had anything left to stay with the group. The last third of the course was a slight rise that you'd hardly notice just doing once, but accelerating up it the eighth time after a hairpin turn started to eat up my legs.
So, for my first race I'm not too bummed. It was good learning experience and I'm eager to get out there again (so feel free to watch me get dropped in Albany next week). I figure I'll just keep at it, I'll come a little closer to finishing each time, then I'll come a little closer to coming top ten each time, and so on. I'll put my results today down to lack of fitness and mental discipline. So next time I'll hold that wheel at all costs and see how far it takes me. I've got a pretty good idea of what I need to work on as well.
Distance: 5.63 mi
Avg Speed: 20.36
Max Speed: 30.32 mi
Avg Cadence: 83 rpm
Max Cadence: 126 rpm
Avg HR: 182 bpm
Max HR: 193 bpm
I'm going to win Albany.