A Weekend of 5ths

So I’m clearly a bit behind on my blogging as these races were over a week ago which you know means one thing…I’ve been slam packed busy!  I’ll provide a quick recap of the two races I did last weekend, cause that just what I do on this here blog 🙂

My cycling team is based out of the Winston/High Point area and when these two events showed on the calendar I knew I’d want to do them.  This would be my first bike races since upgrading to Cat 3 back in April.  Given my general lack of top speed / Vo2 max training on my bike, crits are usually pretty tough for me….especially the “open” and cat 1/2/3 races.  Fortunately, I can rely on my ability to gut it out when it gets hard, but it’s not always enough, as evidenced by the title of this blog.

NC State Criterium Championship – High Point

This race was a cat 1/2/3 race on a ~1.4 mile loop around downtown High Point.  We raced at 10:30am but since there was a later race in the day for the women (30+ and 40+) that I wasn’t doing, I opted to ride up alone.  I arrived about an hour early, got situated and got my ~25 min warm up in.

The race started pretty fast and included several attacks by members of my Pain Pathways team as we had big numbers.  I attacked about 15 minutes into the 40 min race and was able to stay away for about 2.5 laps before being picked up by the field and nearly dying trying to get back in.  There was one nice little corner on the course followed by a climb…not a big climb, but big enough to feel after riding it several times at a generally high effort.  I nearly got popped off the back after my attack when another strong rider attacked on the hill but I did all I could to get back on.  Thankfully.  Riding alone in a bike race kinda defeats the purpose of racing.

The way the course was laid out, it was tough for any one individual or group to establish any significant break.  After about 30 minutes I think it was mutually understood that we’d duke it out in a field sprint.  I set myself up in good position for a lead out on the sprint; however, when it was time to “go” I had little left in the tank to actually “go” anywhere!  Exhibit 1 of my general lack of Vo2 max training 🙂  Not surprising, the 3 girls that my teammates and I knew were a threat, finished 1/2/3 while my teammate Marianne and I rounded out the top 5.  I was neither happy or unhappy with my results, if that makes sense?

Haynes Park Criterium – Winston Salem

After Saturday’s race, two friends / teammates and I headed to Winston Salem later in the day on Sunday to race the Haynes Park crit.  We didn’t race till 2:30 so the 100 degree temperatures were in full effect.  Fortunately, this ~1 mile course was mostly shaded.

The original race plan my teammates and I mapped out didn’t necessarily go as planned and I failed miserably again to get clipped in at the start.  After swerving accidentally and nearly taking out my own teammate (sorry Hannah) as I tried to get clipped in, the race was well under way and I was balls to the wall getting back in the mix.  Seems to be a pattern.  I’m planning to change out my clips on my road bike to speedplays which should help with this issue.

The race proceeded at a pretty nice clip with some early attacks but none successful.  Unfortunately, on the 2nd or 3rd lap (can’t remember) as we climbed the nasty little hill, there was a nasty crash pretty much right in front of me.  All I saw was two girls collide and I darted left.  Thankfully I was able to get around the wreck; unfortunately one of my teammates and one of my friends were involved.  All I heard were some screams, screaching, a few curse words, and a really loud tire pop as I headed on by.  At this point, I learned this weeks bike racing lesson…you keep racing if there’s a wreck.

Unbeknownst to me, you don’t stop, ask your teammates how they’re doing, pick up broken bikes…nothing.  You just keep racing.  I slowed to stop to check on everyone when someone used the crash as a chance to establish a solid break.  So, in limbo between the wreck and the 4 girls up the road, I decided to go catch them.  Thankfully I was able to grab on somewhat quickly and found myself in a nice, established break of 6…with two of my teammates!

We proceeded to ride generally hard in our group with a few people attacking, including myself, to no long-term avail. About halfway through the last lap, we caught the remainder of the field which usually ends up being a disaster.  It was no different this time.  The “rule” is that the people in the group that are being lapped, are supposed to stay neutral until the lead group passes and THEN sprint.  However, there were a few eager beavers in the field that decided they should try to sprint with / against us as they were being lapped, one of which “raced” me to the line.  Not out of the ordinary, I didn’t have much left mustard to give at the sprint and ended up with another 5th behind the same 3 girls from Saturday in 1/2/3 (different order today) and a different teammate of mine in 4th.  Again, I was neither pleased or pissed with my results.  🙂

As a whole, I love to bike race, despite it being so so very hard.  I think it’s great training for shorter distance triathlon, periodically.  I have a few more races planned out for this year and I’m excited to tackle them in hopes to finish better than 5th 🙂


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