Crit virgin that is.
Doubt most will read through this. Main point on the bottom.
Did my first crit last Tuesday. After alot of debating about whether to try it or wait till next season, I took KevinMcdade's advice from a couple months ago and just went for it. Won't know how you stack up until you try.
Crit started at 5:30. After swapping out the Force crank for a DA, I was rushing out the door at 5:02. Lot of back roads because of traffic and a little speeding I made it there by 5:20. Putting my gloves and socks on at the lights, I got everything down from the roof and rushed to the table. Got a one day permit and a number. Tacked on the jersey and headed where everyone was lined up. As soon as I got the back, my face turned red. Damn it, no one told me the number goes sideways! The official just told me to yell out my number when I finished. Oh well.
Whistle blows and we're off. Ease out and start in the low 20s through the first two turns. After that we pick up to the mid 20s and am feeling pretty good in the draft. Ignore the HRM like I was told because "it will freak you out". Not sure of everyones cornering skills (them or me running wide) so I take the outside line so I have more room and can gauge the handling skills of the other riders. (I just put new brakes on recently and didn't have them adjusted right so it sounded like a train screeching to a stop when I was adjusting my speed. Doesn't help ease nerves ) An attack shows up and I chase but we're quickly reeled back in. Couple laps later at the back of the pack, we come through a 90˚ corner where I have alot of speed, tuck in on the draft, pick up some more speed, and start passing people on the right. Freewheeling to the front of the pack with little effort, I foolishly decide: I want to atleast lead a lap. Take off with 6 laps to go and hold on for 3/4 of a lap before I explode. Foolish move I know, but atleast I could feel like I accomplished something. Fell to the back of the pack. Felt like throwing up and was pretty discouraged sitting back with the 12-15yr old juniors and the women. Last lap comes around and I get into the middle of the pack. Last corner with about 400m left everyone starts to sprint. Stand up on the pedals and pass 8 or so people on the right and finish in 6th. Felt like my stomach was inside out and the last thing I wanted to do was take another lap around. Cruise all of 10mph back to the car and collapse in the back seat sweating buckets sippin on my gallon of water.
After I recovered and talked to a couple people in the parking lot, I was ready to do it again! Pain for pleasure I guess. Went online that night and got my license and looked at what races I could do next.
Went back this Tuesday for some more. Actually get to warm up but my knees are bothering me even though I'm spinning. Not to reassuring. Pull up to the line and I'm in the front for once. Whistle goes and I can't get my damn left foot to clip in. There went my position. Speed starts off much slower than the previous week. One lap and it's pretty uneventful. All of a sudden we're off cruising in the mid 20's and we're going faster than last week. Feel so much better than last week. There's a break and I think about chasing, but I figure they'll be caught and no use to waste energy. Go up to get some better positioning but I can't get wedged in the pack and being exposed on the side of it was wearing me down. Damn. Work my way through the corners for better position. Knees are still bothering me. Bell for the last lap and I'm the front 6 and feeling good. SOMEHOW, I fall back to midpack again through the corners. (I think I'm just too cautious with pedal strike and am still not so comfortable cornering with these random riders) Last corner goes and SPRINT! I'm stuck in the middle but I find pockets and start flying by people. Fight off another guy who I beat by a bike length and picked up 4th place. Felt great and still was limping in that recovery lap. When I got to the car, I was barely sweating and didn't feel like collapsing at all. Guess that's just "racing smarter".
Go get a snack and head back to photograph the A and B races. (photography is another hobby) Watch the lines through the corners, the breaks, and the people dropping out. (10 or so) Have a tough time on the corners focusing shots and the lighting was getting less and less as it was getting closer to 8:00. Still got some salvageable ones and with what I know now, should be alot better the next time.
Was asked by 4 or so people if I had a card where they could buy prints. Good idea. I'm driving 30-60 minutes each time and only racing for 30 minutes. Why not stay another hour and have potential to fund my racing season? Setting up PhotosOfTheRace.com this next week and have it running by the next week end. Get some business cards and I have a press to make my own shirt and I should be good. Use the profit to fund my racing season and whatever is left over to put in my pledge for the MS150 in May. (one hobby to fund another)
Like everyone said, you learn the most from your first race. For anyone still nervous to try, GET OUT AND DO IT!
Needless to say, I'm hooked. Not sure if it's the best idea, but I'm hitting up every "close" race before the end of the season.
RR and a Crit this weekend.
2 more Tuesday night crits
2 more Wednesday night crits 40 minutes away
and 2 day crit the following weekend
With my previous two, that makes ten. Dumb to cat up in a month? I intend to train hard this winter and wanted to come out next season fighting for those points to upgrade instead of "just starts". This an OK idea?
Oh ya, with the help of KevinMcdade and Doggus, I'm on the PACC team now. Been in contact with two of the head honchos and they've been nice as hell. They called up so I could pick up a kit at the sponsors shop. (Been getting free service at the shop and now know 75% of the employees) No jerseys in my size but the bibs I tried on felt great! Produced by Bergamo and they look great. Much nicer than my pearl izumi microsensor bibs. Took a look at the tags and my stomach dropped. $135 for the bibs and ~$120 for the jersey! Started thinking I better hold off for the jersey as thatís ALOT of dough. Go to check out, tells me they'll order some more jerseys, rings me up for the bibs, throws the receipt in the trash and a "have a nice day". Whew!
In short: Racing is the most fun you can have with your pants on.