Ok, I may have found my Heroin. I think I am addicted. My goal for tonight was to show up, and hang on to finish with the group. I had never raced before tonight, so I figured that was a good goal.
So I get to Greenbelt at 5 in order to register and buy my one day license. Those in hand, I drive across to the Park in order to get my bike together and do some warm-up on the course. So I am on my bike starting around 5:15. I ride the course, and I like it. Directly after the start there is a long downhill section where I easily hit 25-30mph and then up to about 35mph just before a short incline to the only major turn. The turn is a sharp right hander that I found I was able to take at about 22-25, I figured that would be a good place to practice so when it came time to race I would be ready. After the turn, there is another very slight downhill which leads into about a 6-8% climb (just dead reckoning) of 30 meters in length. Following that another 50-100 meter slight down into the sustained hill. The sustained hill is somewhere around .25-.5 mile ( I dont know, I didnt measure it) but only 2-4% grade. So the slowest during the race we took it was about 15mph. But following that is the finish, at a slight uphill.
So that is the course all ~1.4 miles. I get about 30-45minutes of running laps of warmup and I am feeling good. So we line up for the start of the 30 minute + 2 lap race. At 6:00 on the nose we start. We take off for the first 100meters nice and easy as all 14 of us clip in and get going. At the downhill we speed up. I see someone starting to break away a bit and decide I should bridge to that wheel in case he is strong. Good choice as the rest of the field follows. We get to the first turn, through the climb, and to the finish. At some point in the first 4-5 laps the group gets pretty much obliterated. It is down to 5 of us. Yellow Jersey, Neon Jersey, Green Jersey, me and the Italian guy in a White jersey. One Italian looking guy, who is quite content to do all the work off the front, the other 4 of us in the group are happy to let him.
Now about 5-6 laps into it ( I really wasn't counting) we got a bell for a prime lap. Nothing really changes for the 5 of us. Even as we approach the finish for the prime no one goes hard for it. We just cross and the Italian guy takes it, business as usual. At this point there are 6 laps to go. I am still feeling good, occasionally having heavy legs near the end of the climb, but able to still hang on. So we get to 3 laps to go. We go through the downhill, to the turn, and I decide to try a small 'flyer' there just to see what the other 4 have left. I push it up to about 30mph in the slight downhill (we had been doing 23-25 there) and everyone just clings right to my wheel and I lead to about 3/4 up the climb when the Italian goes back in front, I have no clue why he wanted to do all the work, but oh well. So I realize we are all probably just about even. 2 laps to go, that lap goes without event. Then we get the bell. The first half of the lap is normal. Nothing happens.
Once we crest the hill after the turn, things start to heat up. The guy in the yellow jersey kicks up the pace. and we all react to follow. We are moving up the hill at a pretty good pace, and the Green jersey decides to have a go about halfway up. We all follow. He fades. Then about 300 meters from the finish, Neon jersey goes for it. I hesitate thinking it may be too far for my kick, and after he is about 5 bikes ahead of me, I go. Everyone else follows. At this point, only Neon Jersey is ahead of me and I don't hear or feel anyone beside me. Neon Jersey takes 1st by about 5 bikes and I manage 2nd. I think 3rd was 1-2 bikes behind me. Needless to say, I was ecstatic. I managed a 2nd place in my first race. I congratulate the winner, and we ride through one more lap for a cool down nice and easy.
So basically, I love racing now. I can't wait for my next chance. I managed to remember to look down at my computer and check average speed about halfway through the cooldown lap, we managed 22.5-23mph average for the 35-40 minute race. I was surprised, but it felt really good. I am kicking myself for not latching onto the winner's wheel when he went. Lesson learned for next time. Anywhere remotely near the finish, latch onto the flyer. I might could have won had I gone with him, but oh well, hindsight is 20/20.
Anyway, sorry for the long post, but I am still excited and it is the next day. I am looking forward to more racing.