The Rocky Mountain Raceway Criterium Series. Mostly this is an auto racing venue, but Saturdays during March and Tuesday evenings the rest of the year, they let the cyclists use their dragstrip and another 3/4 miles added on to make a 1 1/4 mile loop. Today they said there was too much water on the regular course, so we rode a 3/8 mile oval inside the regular loop, which worked out very well for my first ever race, since the corners were all relatively gradual and predictable. Temperature was 45°, overcast, threatening to rain, a bit breezy. I'm on a LeMond Reno with a triple, pretty much the Freddest guy there. I'm also older than dirt (Patentcad), so I really have no business being here, but everyone's very nice about it.
The 1's and 2's go out for 45 minutes, then the 3's and 4's go out for about 35 minutes, followed by us, the 5s, for 30 minutes. My goals are to (1) start at the back and experience that distinctive accordion effect; (2) move up through the pack, maybe bump some elbows, get in the thick of a main group; and (3) move to the front and maybe get in on some breaks.
We start, a field of maybe 35 riders, I'm nervous, can't get clipped in, and find myself near the end of the pack, which is more or less what I'd planned (except for the not-being-able-to-clip-in part). Trouble is, there's a bunch of very slow riders right in front of me, and a couple of laps into the race, a main group has established itself about 1/4 lap ahead of the rest of us. So I move up through the folks who are struggling, get to the front of that bunch and find I'm about 1/2 a lap behind the pack.
There's a guy in a bright green jersey, on a Panasonic DX-2000 (which I recognize because I use one as a commuter), downtube shifters and all, probably on 27" tires, so he and I trade pulls but can't make any real progress getting up to the pack. About 18 minutes into the race, we get lapped, but I can hang onto the back of the main group, even though they're a lap up on me.
Lesson learned: Try not to let the main group get away from you, like everyone here at BF has counseled. I ignored this advice and find myself a lap down, but at least staying with the group. We wheel around for ten minutes or so and I'm amazed at how much easier it is to ride behind these guys. I knew it would be, but maybe you just have to experience it for yourself to understand how drastic the difference is during a race.
The lead group's speed varies between 23 mph and 28 mph (28 mph is tough), and we get the word that there are three laps to go. The group is strung out in a line, mostly composed of one of the local teams (Canyon Sports, I think), and no one really makes much of a move to break or even accelerate. So during one of the 23 mph lulls, I scoot up around everyone, a couple of guys stand up to chase but then someone yells, "is he with us?", and they let me go. Then, as eveyone sets up for the last lap, they come by me and I get to watch everyone fan out for the sprint, which I didn't really want any part of, since I wasn't in contention for anything and given my sprinting experience, I'd likely have mucked things up
No idea where I finished--far from dead last, but way out of the top ten, maybe 20th or so. Next week I try to hold onto the front group at the start.
A lot of what I watched and understood today was based on what I've read here at BF. Thanks, guys and gals. There's much good info here, and it's very much appreciated!
This was so ****ing much fun!