Today was my first criterium race ever... and I definitly learned quite a lot during the race...
It was held in Domingious hills (sorry can not spell), a california bicycle racing race but USCF honored and counted. The field was 54, quite large for a cat 5 race. There was some strong team support at the race also, I counted a few teams with 3 or 4 racing. They had a short little 10 minute clinic at the beginning, do not cross wheels, turning, holding your line, blah blah...
My goal for the race was to finish, it was my first race and I had no expectations on placing even in the top 20. I was simpily there to gain experience and I did. We started off and the first 3 laps were quick. I remember looking down at my speedometer and seeing 28 MPH a few times and I was not working all that hard on the outer right on the pack behind two people. My mistake was starting, I started on the inside where almost no one was. Once we got going I found it very hard to try and move my way into the center on the pack.
For 8 laps I moved around it the pack, pushed through a gap , moved into the outside on the downhill, etc until I was in about 20th place. My first mistake was ending up last in the line on the inside. The course was not flat at all, it had a climbing start, and climbed it seemed most of the way. I am not a climber and at 28 MPH I would lose a little ground on the hills and have to push to get back on the wheel. The second mistake I made was the fatal one.
With 16 minutes in (7 laps) I got really tired of getting pushed into the curb on the corners. On the downhill I pushed to the outside of the pack on the right, passed 5 riders but could not get back in. I was bucking the wind and my legs can not do 28 MPH in the front. I started loosing ground, got on the back on the pack and on the next hill 6 riders and myself were off the back. It happened so quick I could not believe it.
After getting dropped I tryed as hard as I could to catch the group to no avail. I speed up to 25 MPH and naturally the 6 behind me jumped on my wheel. I do not know what got into me but I was pushing so hard I actually forgot that my legs were hurting for a second. I looked down and saw my HR at 182 BPM, the top of the anaerobic zone (my LT zone is 166 BPM) I chased the pack at 25 MPH for 12 minutes but they slipped away until I could not see them anymore. The cards came out and we were about 3/4's of a lap back. Right when the pack came in for the sprint we had just crossed the finish line, 1 lap behind.
I can remember the announcer saying... the pack is right there you can catch them. As soon as I heard that I pushed as hard as I could. At the end of 30 minutes my legs were tired but I felt like I hard more in me. I averaged 23.6 MPH at 12.6 mile at 31.42 minutes.
I took 45 out of 54 riders, not the best result but for my first time I was very happy. I absolutly love the adrenaline rush that comes in a pack at 28 MPH. I learned alot and got quite a few questions answered too. Physically I have a way to go but I will be there soon... just need more races under my belt... I still can not believe after 7 months I am at this point.
On a side note I did meet a member of this forum racing with team Monix (I believe that is how you spell it) along with some others here. Glad to meet all of you.
I can not wait until the next one... until then... more hill climbing here I come!