This past weekend was the first two collegiate races I'd ever done.
saturday was the JHU road race. It was a 5 mile loop, mostly false flat with a steep half-mile hill on it about halfway through the lap. The race started well, I managed to be in front for the first mile or so, but I realized that I was doing a fair amount of work, so when the hill came, I allowed some whippy looking flks to pass me. I had a good pack position in the group, and the pack was barely moving. fine with me, I wasn't going to break until the last hill because I'm not a very good climber, and it was a 35 mile race. so I just sat in the pack, with my HR chillin around 120, then I'd let it climb up to 180 up the hill, then fall back down to 120 on the flat. things were going well, I was actually considering making an attack because the pace was so slow.
But with 3 laps of the course to go, someone touched wheels about two bikes in front of me. down went two UMD guys, and down went I. I landed on the guy in front of me, so I didn't get any road rash, but my front wheel was pretty out of true, I had the wind knocked out of me, my bars were crooked, and I had a nice bruise forming on my lower back/oblique. by the time I regained my composure, the pack was gone, out of sight. the guy who orginially touched wheels had some nice RR on his face, so they gave him a back to the parking lot. I rode. Along the way, I got all sorts of pity claps, like "c'mon! you can catch up!" I was tempted to try to catch the group, or at least finish the race, but my rubbing front wheel and crooked bars were pissing me off too much. I pulled in and got on the trainer when I got back to the parking lot to cool down, and popped some advil in preparation for the next day's race.
The next day, sunday, was the UMD crit. It was 35 minutes long plus 2 laps. I got there with plenty of time to go, warmed up, then got to the line a bit late. I got stuck at the back, and to make it worse, I couldn't clip in at the beginning. I kept my cool, but I was off the back. I spent the next few laps getting back on, however, I couldn't get into the group. The UMD crit course was super technical, with only about 100 yds in which to pass, the rest was a tricky set of narrow roads on the president of the university's driveway. I hung onto the back, but couldn't move up, becuase I'd lose the pack on the turns, then I'd sprint back up on the straightaway, then lose time again. this went on, until 10 laps were left. the peleton started to speed up, and strangely enough I had an easier time keeping up. I was still hanging on the back, and I was into a rythm of sprinting out of the corners. I could hang onto the pack, and was preparing to move up.
It was at this point that I had some "help" in getting dropped. these two hopkins riders would hang onto me, then pass me on this short hill. at this point, they would die, leaving me stuck. I would then have to sprint my ass back to the pack, then at the same place, they would sprint by and then let a gap form. I eventually got tired to bridging the gap, and started to drop off. thinking about it now, I should've just said, "stop it. I'll do the work. get behind me." I ended up finishing 16th. not in the points, but not as bad as I thought when I finished. at least I didn't get pulled, so I went the whole 35-40 minutes. If nothing else, it was a good workout.
All in all, I think that I am there physically with most of the riders in the C class, however, I have things that still need work. I found that I was getting complacent in the JHU road race, and I wasnt trying to pass people. I realized that I need to be more agressive in moving up. my coach said it best, "if you're not moving up, your moving back". Also, getting in front in a crit is essential or you'll lose time in all of the corners, as I found. I am still not comfortable in the middle of the pack in technical corners, so thats something I need to work on.
All in all, I had fun, and my back isn't too bad. Its nice and blue right now though. I hope it feels better by this weekend, when the NCSU home race is going on. Its a RR, TTT and crit, all in two days. It should be fun.