So I have been training fairly hard this year – 500 miles on the trainer over winter, 800 outside miles already, and riding 15-20 pounds less than last year at this point. Why you ask? So I could feel confident enough that I would not embarrass myself if I got back into racing at 50 years old… wrong.
There were two crits this weekend – the Waukesha “Chiro” Crit - basically straight up a 6% grade (according to Map My Ride), turn, and go back down the other side. Four miles from my house - I have ridden this Crit route training. To make a long story short, I felt like crap Saturday morning after being out till 1 am the night before - which was enough of an excuse not to race, but I did go watch the 4/5 race. I thought “tough hill”, but I could do this!
Today the Crit was around a business park in Sussex. What the hell – I thought it would be flat, and it was, except for a medium hill leading to the start /finish line. So I enter the Men’s 4/5 open race – line up for the 45 minute race, and we are off! Me and 30 other skinny little 20/30 somethings (you know… what I used to be when I raced in college!).
First lap I stay in the back of the pack – hardly pedaling at 23-25 mph –easy I thought! Not. As soon as the pack hit the base of the hill… Holy Crap! Sprint to the top. I hang on and the 2nd lap speed increases to around 25-30. No problem – still playing it safe at the back of the pack. Make it up the friggen hill. 3rd lap same thing, but hitting the hill I did not accelerate fast enough and fell off the back slightly. Starting the 4th lap I burn a match and catch back on… until the bottom of the fu$#@n hill again.
This time I did not catch back on. So around I go by myself, then finish the lap up the g’dam little hill. Think of just pullin out – no can’t quit – daughter is there watching and taking pics, and I’m no quitter. So I ride solo for the rest of the race. Not killing myself, but a good steady pace – and of course saving myself for getting up the #!*&$@% hill at the end of each lap. Oh – and trying to earn a little respect by looking good going up the hill for the spectators!! So, I was either up out of the saddle, or spinning a good cadence.
By about the 8th lap the field caught me (ummm that means I got friggen lapped), and I latched onto the back. Until… ya the hill. Finally, the end of the race – I did 11 laps; 13.5 miles at 20.5 mph average. Basically a fast training ride pace for me, but obviously not good enough for a race.
So here is what I learned/observed today:
1. I am to old to race against 20 somethings
2. More hill work!
3. Lose more weight-I am likely stronger than everyone else out there, but I am also bigger and carry 40+ more pounds up hills (of which 15+ could be shed)
4. Be towards the front of the pack leading into a hill, not the back… (this may be lesson #1 actually)
5. Don’t loose the pack
6. Find a crit with no hills!
7. Little kids love ringing cow bells for the old farts OTB
8. And finally, daughters will give you unconditional love!
So now, I am at a crossroads – can I ever get good enough again to race at even the lowest level, or do I just give up this silly idea and just enjoy me recreational riding? Advice?