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  1. #1
    Veni, Vidi, Vomiti SteveE's Avatar
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    Did my First Road Race

    Winter Series Road Race #1
    Sun. 11/02/03
    Category 5 (Club category, not USCF)
    Field: 72 total starters, 68 finishers
    Place: 3rd (Category 5), 17th Overall

    Teammates in my group: Josh and Roger

    This was my first race, so I didn't really know what to expect. It was not a USCF-sanctioned race so the categories aren't the same as USCF categories. (There were 6 categories instead of 5).

    Roger, Jim, and I rode the course the previous Tuesday. So I knew where the potholes, turns, and "The Wall" were located.

    The race had a staggered start with the 6's going first, followed 5 minutes later by the 5's. Four minutes after our start the 4's left, etc. The idea of the handicap is to have every group reach the finish line around the same time.

    It was 35 degrees when I got to the staging area. It warmed up a bit by the time we got started but it was still pretty chilly! Our plan was pretty simple --- keep away from the Category 4 riders for as long as possible. I went out to the front a few times when I felt the pace was slackening. We dropped a few riders before we got to the first turn onto Oak Glen. Roger suggested I get to the front of the pack as we headed to the one major hill (aka "The Wall") on the course. I went over first, closely followed by a guy named Luis, and Josh. Josh talked us into pushing our advantage on the downhill. The three of us worked together and finished the first lap together in the lead. Eventually Roger brought a group of about 10 guys up to us. Some of the folks didn't contribute much to the pacemaking so about six of us probably ended up doing most of the work.

    The second time up the Wall, Josh and Luis got out ahead of me. Right at the top, I started getting caught by riders from the 1,2,3,and 4s. I latched on to the group that formed and managed to stay with the lead group as we made the turns onto Watsonville Rd. and then Uvas Rd. Some guy in a pickup truck came down the road in the opposite direction just as I was crossing a narrow bridge on Uvas which unnerved me a bit. Not being much used to racing conditions, I unfortunately let myself fall back a bit on the run-in up to the uphill finish line. The group began to pull away from me but I could see at least a couple of them slowing down. So I decided to give it my best shot and managed to pass at least two riders just before the finish line.

    In retrospect, I probably should have checked behind me at the crest of the hill the first time over to see if there were any other riders close the our group of three. If we had had a larger group we may have been able to push a faster pace on the second lap. That might have been enough to get us to the finish line before the groups that started later could catch us.

    My teammate, Josh, who recently joined our club at the last meeting came in first in our group. Another teammate in a higher category came in first overall.

    It was a fun, unthreatening intro to racing.
    "Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting ...'holy *****...what a ride!'"

  2. #2
    Senior Member roadwarrior's Avatar
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    Cool...

    you learned, quick, that race pace is not riding pace. and there were no crashes so you all came home in one piece. One of the biggest issues with lower category racing is that few riders know how to race in a pack. As a result, they do unusual things, like brake for no reason causing pileups.

    sounds like you had fun...did you take your heart rate monitor along? Of so, was your average HR way above that you experience on training rides?

    what new racers get quickly, is that they are riding at lactate and then they realize that they need to train to raise their lactate so they don't blow up and it sounds, since you finished 17th in the total group that you are in pretty good shape.
    "Nothing is so typical of middling minds than to harp on the intellectual deficiencies of the slightly less smart, but considerably more successful."
    Bret Stephens, WSJ

  3. #3
    Veni, Vidi, Vomiti SteveE's Avatar
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    Roadwarrior,

    We kept a high tempo at the beginning which, I think, shed the weaker riders. By the time we got to the first turn (at the bottom of a down hill, sharp right-hand turn) it was mostly more experienced riders, although there was at least one guy who was pretty erratic in his bike handling.

    I haven't been using my heart rate monitor recently and didn't use it for the race. I pretty much know what my thresholds are anyway and how much I can push it.

    Yeah, it was a lot of fun. Of course, since I finished pretty well in my category they'll probably put me in with the 4's (roughly equivalent to a real Cat 5) for the next race. If that happens, I'll try to avoid getting my nose into the wind for very long. I also need to be more assertive in holding on to my position for the last mile or so up to the finish. The other thing I need to work on is doing some hill interval repeats so I can crest the one major hill (about 150ft in 1/4 mile) without burning too many candles.
    "Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting ...'holy *****...what a ride!'"

  4. #4
    Senior Member roadwarrior's Avatar
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    The thing about crits is getting strung out at turns. The further back you are, the more you have to push to get back to the group.

    Try spending time learning how to accelerate quickly..if you have a trainer, try Trainright's Criterium Racing workout..it's in a video and is great for that type of racing.
    "Nothing is so typical of middling minds than to harp on the intellectual deficiencies of the slightly less smart, but considerably more successful."
    Bret Stephens, WSJ

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