I just checked the last time I rode in a race, and it was April 1st. I hadn’t realized it was quite so long ago. The Tuesday night race series began tonight — it will run through the beginning of September, so I have the luxury of a local race once a week for the next four months. These aren’t “official” races, not USCF ones, but I don’t really care about that — I’m just happy to have a race to ride in.
I had no idea how I would do tonight. As I’ve written about recently, I haven’t ridden all that much in the few weeks, so I was unsure of my fitness level. And these races are hard — there are only two groups of riders, the A group and the B group, when usually with bigger races there are 6 or 7 groups, or something like that. What this means is that I ride with fast people. I ride with Hobgoblin, in fact. I rode in this series last summer, and did okay — sometimes I could stay with the pack and sometimes I couldn’t.
So, this afternoon before the race, Hobgoblin and I went through our litany of excuses — I’m tired, my head hurts, my stomach hurts, I don’t feel like racing, I’m too stressed about school, etc., etc. I really, truly didn’t feel like racing. But I’ve learned by now that if I don’t race, I usually regret it, so I forced myself to put on my cycling clothes and ride over to the course. One of the first things that happened when we got there was that it started raining. Perfect, right? We hung out under a small tent until it let up a little bit, and then it was time to start warming up.
Once we started riding, I settled into it pretty well. I forgot about the headache and the stress. I spent the whole race hoping I could hang on another lap, but the thing is, I always did end up hanging on, and I ended up staying with the pack right through the final sprint. All 23 laps, 45 minutes, 18 miles or so of the race. This is still relatively unusual for me, and so it’s quite a pleasure to be with the pack as they head up the hill for the last time and then to do a cool-down lap with the group, talking over how things went. One of the highlights of the race was catching up to Hobgoblin and riding next to him for a minute or two, talking a bit about how the race was going. Most of the time, though, I could see him up at the front, pushing the pace.
So I feel like I’m back into racing after a month off; I’m pleased because I’ve got a bit of confidence back and I won’t dread next week’s race quite as much.