Just because I’ve got my new blog where I write about my training doesn’t mean I won’t write about cycling now and then over here — I have to make my blog title make sense, after all. So, now is the time when I need to register for the spring race series that takes place in my town (1 1/2 miles from my house — so convenient!), and I can’t figure out which race to register for. My first race ever was at this series in the women’s field, and I lasted about three laps (less than 3 miles) before getting dropped, at which point I switched to the men’s category 5 field (beginning racers) and did much better. I raced with them the rest of that first season and last year’s season as well.
But maybe it’s time to try the women’s field again. The women’s field has racers of all experience levels, and so is faster. I’m in better shape than I was last time I rode with them, but I’m not sure I’m fast enough, and I’m not sure I want to work that hard. Here’s what I’m thinking:
Reasons to ride with the women:
- Maybe it’s just time to try something harder, and if I don’t do well I can probably switch back for the rest of the series.
- I did ride in a women’s race last summer and managed to hang on to the end, and so maybe I can do it in this spring series too.
- If I don’t, I will probably feel wistful when I see the women race and will wonder how I would have done.
- Riding with the women will be hard, but that means I will get in shape faster (assuming I can hang with them at all).
Reasons to ride with the men:
- I’m more likely to be able to stay with the men’s field the whole race and will therefore get more experience riding in a pack, which I need.
- Last year I was finishing in the middle or even towards the front of the pack (the best I did was 13th place, I think, out of maybe 40 starters). If I can do this again, I’ll get experience being in the finishing sprint, something that has only happened to me a couple times. I don’t know well enough what finishing with the sprinters is like.
- The category 5 men on my team are my buddies — they love it that I race with them, they encourage me, and they are really happy for me when I do well. The cat 5 captain recently encouraged me to ride with them again this year.
- I don’t like early season races because it’s just way too early; I’m not in my best shape. Nobody else should be either, but I get the feeling people train specifically for these races and there are lots of very strong people out there. I prefer to focus on races that occur later in the season, which means that I’m only now beginning to train hard. So why not ride with the easier group?
The series doesn’t begin until March, so I have some time, but I really don’t know what to do! I feel unfocused in my training this year, as I’m thinking about competing in triathlons, but I’m not ready for them yet, but I’m also not fully focused on the cycling either. It’s like I’m not really giving my best to anything this year. But that’s okay — I feel like I need some transition time from one sport to the other, and I’m not in all this for the competition, really. I’d just as soon train and not race, except for the fact that races give me something to work toward.
8 responses to “A cycling post”
Can you ride with the men in all but the last race and then ride the last race with the women when you will presumably be in good racing form and have gotten some experience at the things you listed? Or maybe ride with the women in the first race to see how it is and then ride with the men in all the subsequent races? Or maybe don’t worry about the women and just ride with the men because you obviously enjoy yourself in those races. I can see I am being very helpful 😉
Is there just one category of women racers? It sounds like there more categories for men. It might be good to race with the women if it means you push yourself a little hard to keep up with them. Then again if it means being miserable it might be better to race with the same group as you did before–they sound very supportive. Good luck in your decision. In your other training do you get to try out competing in smaller ‘races’? Or do you just train for something big?
I think you should decide according to what would give you most pleasure, not the most challenge. But then, that’s only my opinion. Good luck with whatever you decide to do!
Thank you Stefanie 🙂 It’s hard, isn’t it? So many options. And everyone is giving me conflicting advice, here and over at the other blog. That’s okay, though; I’ll sort it out. All of your suggestions sound good; too bad I can’t do them all!
Danielle — In this particular race series there is just one race for women, although sometimes there are more. There are tons of categories for men, but that’s because there are so many more men racing. It’s nice that women have the option to ride with men if they want to. In other training, I don’t know a whole lot other kinds of races — I think “big” and “small” races will be more a matter of how I perceive them — I’ll decide which ones to concentrate on and which ones not to.
Litlove — thank you! I do like your criteria. The problem is I’m not entirely sure which would give me more pleasure, or if the differences races would offer different kinds of pleasure. But I’ll definitely take pleasure into account as I think about this.
I commend you on thinking about doing races. At this time of year, it’s all I can do to stay on the bike and in the gym. Every January/February, I plan my imminent retirement, even as I renew my club/team memberships, and drool over the new kit.
If I were choosing races based on pleasure, I’d never get off the couch.
Perhaps I’ll get to one of those Bethel races.
Well, that makes me feel better Fendergal — thank you! And do come up to Bethel; it would be fun to see you.
Oh good. I’m glad to see you’re still posting about biking over here. I’m afraid to go to your other site, because I’m too in awe of someone who would take on the challenge of both triathlon training AND posting about it. However, I do like to read about you and your bicycle. It sounds to me like you’re probably ready to ride with the women, but just need a tiny little push. If I could change the font size here, I’d give you a tiny little push.
Emily — oh, the site’s not scary! 🙂 But anyway — you’re probably right about riding with the women … I should at least give it a try.