Bike Racing!

This year has been all over the place as far as riding is concerned. I rode steadily for the first few weeks of the year, and then really awful weather hit, and I stopped riding entirely for almost four weeks. Then I started, then I stopped, and now I’ve started again. And today was my first race! No, I was not really prepared for it. I’m in the worst shape for March that I’ve been in in a long time. But the race went okay anyway. It was 20 laps long, and the pack stayed together most of the way. I stayed with the rest of the riders until lap 18, and then I dropped back a bit climbing the short hill on the course, and I couldn’t catch back on. I finished, but I did the last two laps on my own.

I know I could have done better if I had ridden smarter. Bike racing is just as much about tactics and positioning as it is about fitness, and I’m not good at all at tactics and positioning. So when my fitness is just so-so, I’m kind of screwed. I spent most of the race at or near the back of the pack, which puts me in danger of getting dropped, especially on the hill, where lack of fitness really shows. If I had been closer to the front of the pack, slowing down on the hill wouldn’t have mattered as much because I would still have been with the rest of the riders and wouldn’t have had to catch up. It’s having to catch up that’s a problem.

The thing is, I dislike racing enough that I’m not motivated to work on tactics and positioning. I had three teammates to ride with today, and one other woman who is sort of an honorary teammate, plus a bunch of other women from other teams that I am acquaintances with, and all that is fun. The social aspect is the real reason to race, I think — that, along with gaining fitness. I don’t do it because I’m driven to win. So … I stay at the back of the pack. Whatever.

I am excited about getting strong again, though. The real, real reason to race is to get strong so that I can do fast group rides. For me, that’s where the fun lies: riding the cupcake loop, the Lake Waramaug loop, the ridiculous 150-mile Massachusetts loop, and doing these rides with friends. There’s little that’s more fun than riding fast with a bunch of friends, full of adrenaline, laughing and joking, enjoying the Connecticut countryside. I’m hoping for a lot of rides like that this year.

Here’s a picture of my teammates and I at the start line shortly before the race started. I’m second from the right.


Filed under Cycling

11 responses to “Bike Racing!

  1. Stay safe. I know you have to race to achieve race fitness, but I’d hate you to strain something.


  2. It’s racing time already? You did so much riding last year I’m sure you are in better shape than you give yourself credit for. And pretty soon you’ll have made up any small lack. Have fun and have a good racing season!


  3. The group rides sound like such fun! Good luck on your new season!


  4. Cute photo! I thought of you as I was reading the YA novel with my niece as the characters are mountain bike riders and there was a race in the story–now that would terrify me! I’d definitely be tempted by the cupcake loop! At least the weather is getting better and you’ll have more chances to ride.


  5. Annie — thank you. I do try to stay safe. There’s a certain amount of danger involved in racing, but women’s races tend to be safer than men’s, which is good. It’s probably safer in the long run to race than to sit on the couch and do nothing (that ignores the fact that I can be fit without actually racing — I can just ride for fun — but oh, well!).

    Stefanie — I do have some residual fitness left from last year, and actually I didn’t stop riding until late January, so it’s not too much time off. But when you’re talking about race fitness a few weeks matter a lot. But I can already feel the strength coming back, so I’m happy about that.

    Jenclair — they are incredibly fun. Thank you!

    Danielle — oh, how fun! The YA novel sounds great. I wonder if your niece will want a bike? 🙂 I think mountain bike racing might actually be safer than road racing, because you’re riding more by yourself so others can’t crash into you, you’re going slower, and you’re also going to fall on dirt rather than pavement. But still, scary!


  6. I thought you did really well, considering you told me you’d been off your bike for a while. And the wind was terrible!

    I hope that we can do some group rides together, though I know you and Hobs will blow me off the road!


  7. Yay for fun biking! I should get my bike back on the trainer and start getting my rear used to being in the seat 🙂 Thanks for the inspiration!


  8. Funs the thing that matters! So easy to get caught up in the competitiveness of sport and I find your attitude so energising. Bring on the bike news, I love hearing about your long rides and now that I am working on healthy eating (with a plan to start walking once the weather works out it’s spring damnit) I will feel less like shoving a muffin in my mouth in sympathy with your hard work 🙂


  9. Debby — doing some rides together would be great! I’m looking forward to riding interesting places this summer.

    Bardiac — I learned the hard way that it takes a little time to get used to being in the saddle again: I went from basically nothing to three hours all at once, and … ouch!

    Jodie — thank you! I need to work on that not shoving a muffin in my mouth thing. Or cupcakes or cookies. I can ride a ton, but ask me to control my diet? No!!!


  10. It seems this is the year you finally come to grips with racing, huh? Good for you!


  11. Breeana P

    How exciting, to ride with a group. It sounds like such fun. It’s great to hear that you don’t have to be super competitive to be involved in the bike races. Just there to have fun, enjoy the rush and to stay in shape with some good friends. Sounds like a hobby worth checking out. I’m sure being in the beautiful northeast with all of that scenery makes it even more enjoyable. Good Luck.


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