My first race of the season was today and it didn’t suck! Yay!
Actually, I did the best I’ve ever done for the first race of the season, which is to say that I finished with the pack. My usual experience is that I’ll fall behind the pack around half way through the first race (which means my race is over, since there’s no way to catch up when I’m out there by myself and can’t draft on anyone), and then steadily improve with each race so that I can finish a race eventually. Last year, my best year so far, I managed to finish the second race of the season. So I’m happy to have improved.
I got 17th place out of maybe 35 women or so, which puts me right in the middle of the pack. What happened, though, is that the pack basically split in two somewhere in the middle of the race, and I managed to stay with the front group, which eventually lapped the group that fell behind (the course is about .8 of a mile, so a faster group can lap a slower one sooner or later). When it came to the final sprint, I was at the back of the fast group, but placed in the middle overall because of all the lapped riders.
And, just to clarify, I’m particularly pleased about this result because I’m riding in a women’s open field, which means that there are championship racers out there and people who have a whole long history of winning races, as well as women who are new to the sport. Women’s open fields are hard because you never know who you’re going to race against. In men’s races, you generally race against people of roughly your ability, but there aren’t enough women to justify multiple racing categories, so we all get lumped together.
I’m also pleased because just a month or so ago I thought I wouldn’t race at all because I wouldn’t be ready. Silly me. What I’ve learned, besides the fact that experience helps, is that I don’t need tons and tons of miles before I’m ready to race. I didn’t do a whole lot of riding in December and January, which I thought would hurt me. But I did fine by starting training right at the end of January, riding solidly through February, and adding in a few sprint workouts in the few weeks before the first race. That’s good to know, especially when I’m faced with tough winters that don’t allow me to do a lot of outside riding.
8 responses to “First race of the season”
Congrats–it sounds like you had a great race! And to think you were close to not racing at all. I’m not sure if this is the case, but maybe if you were going into it without worrying too much about what would happen and not stressing out over how you finished was just enough to make you do really well–if that makes any sense! 🙂 Did the friend you were helping out race as well?
That’s great to hear! A few of my teammates were up there, and I have yet to hear how it went for them. I missed the split at the club race on Saturday, and it’s always nice to be on the right side of such a gap. Yes to not needing tons of miles. Intensity is the key.
Yay! You’ve done so well, what with all kinds of injuries and uncertainties. I hope this gives you a huge confidence boost for the season to come!
Congrats! What a nice way to start off the season. And to think you were considering not racing at all.
Yay! Great improvement for this year. Very propitious! Sorry to hear the women don’t get categories. That can sometimes be dangerous, mixing so many skill levels together. I once got trashed because a rider panicked while drafting and jammed his brakes. I leaned slightly left and avoided his tire but when I yelled a warning to the riders behind me, the brake-jammer turned to see what was up… his bike turned with him and took my front wheel right out from under me. One bike slammed into my fetal self and the next one rode over the both of us. Of course, I had many warning signs and should have left the pack earlier: his skittishness was palpable.
Here’s hoping that many more women find their way into the sport and more categories get created. Meanwhile, stay safe and enjoy your annual improvements.
Congratulations on a great race! That has to be a huge confidence booster when you were doubting racing at all this year.
I’m glad to hear it went well.
Here’s wishing you lots more fun this season!
Danielle — you are very right that lowering expectations helps me do better. I do that all the time — I tell myself I don’t have to do great, I don’t have to finish the race, it doesn’t matter how well I ride, etc., and then I can relax enough to enjoy it and want to work hard. If I have super-high expectations for myself, I feel exhausted and unhappy. And yes, my friend did race and she did well — much better than I did in my first race!
Fendergal — I saw some of your teammates! It’s so easy to miss that split too, unfortunately — get on the wrong wheel, and it’s over. That’s what happened to a friend of mine, unfortunately.
Litlove — thank you, and it does give me a boost of confidence! Although it means I feel more pressure, too … but that’s okay. I try hard not to take racing too seriously!
Stefanie — I know, silly me for thinking I wasn’t going to race! I’m glad I changed my mind.
Bikkuri — you’re so right about the number of women racing. That’s one of the reasons I want to keep at it myself, to help out the size of the field. I don’t mind being pack fodder 🙂 Sorry about your crash with that inexperienced rider! Sounds like that rider needed a few group rides (or a lot of group rides) to get used to riding with others before trying to race.
Debby — it does make me feel glad I changed my mind. It’s nice to know that I can get into racing shape without months and months of work.
Bardiac — thank you! I’m looking forward to hearing about your riding season when it starts.