But I'm not. I'm just following the upgrade rules.
I raced the Binghamton circuit race yesterday. It was my 2nd mass start uscf race, but I've been doing thursday night training races for a couple of weeks, and I've done well in those so far. The event was setup so that almost everyone would have a chance to race twice, so I signed up for the Cat 5 race at 11:15 and the 3-4-5 race at 1:15.
For the Cat 5 race, I felt like I was barely moving for almost the entire race. The course was fairly flat with one long downhill and a gradual uphill at the finish line, so a breakaway was not the best strategy. I knew the this race would most likely come down to a field sprint, and I watched as the first few breakaway attempts were brought back without too much trouble. As we rolled around the final lap, I got myself into a decent position and tried to make sure that nobody would be in my way. Coming up to the finish, I waited until the first few guys went (earlier than I was expecting, again), and launched up the hill. I ended up catching the guy who had left really early and breezed past him. It almost looked like he had let up because he thought he had won the race, but when I came barreling up the hill, he let out an "oh s***". I heard later that he had supposedly clipped out, but it didn't look that way to me. So I got my first official USCF win.
After that race I felt like I had just done a warm-up for the next race. I realized that the pace felt slow, incredibly slow at times. I asked another of the stronger riders in the 5s, and he felt the same way.
In the 3-4-5 race, my goal was just to sit in and see what the pace was, and then just try some different tactics to see what worked and what didn't. On the 4th or 5th lap (out of 15), I tried to get on a breakaway with another strong rider from the 5s. We were brought back pretty quickly. I again decided that I should just sit in and wait for the sprint. Over the next few laps, we had some interesting stuff going on. At one point an 18 wheeler pulled onto the course in between the breakaway and the pack, and someone ran into my back wheel, causing a crash. After another 2 laps, the race was finally neutralized and they brought everyone back together. On the last lap, the pace ramped up considerably, and I struggled to get myself into position. I moved up with another rider who I thought was going to contest the sprint, but when we hit the hill, he just sat up and I was blocked in. To make matters worse, my left hamstring started to cramp when I stood up, so I just soft pedaled up the hill.
I guess I should enjoy these early wins, but I feel like I'm just in the wrong category. I'm racing as much as possible to upgrade quickly. I know they want you to do 10 mass start races for the experience, but I feel like I handle my bike pretty well. It's still fun, but I'm looking forward to more tactics, and not just "the fastest guy wins".