Tuesday, October 14, 2008

First Race

ResultsI completed my first bicycle race on Monday, in the traditional method of observing the Columbus Day holiday. Well, traditional if you're participating in the 33rd Jamestown Classic. I signed up several months ago after riding with some people who were slightly faster/better than I was. Being on track to complete my cycling goals for the year, I tacked on an extra goal of finishing my first race.

I wasn't nervous leading up to the start of the race, but the first 2 miles or so of the race I had adrenaline jitters. It felt like the bike was moving erratically under me during those opening miles. Once those jitters wore off, I was able to settle into a rhythm near the front of the pack early on. The pack didn't really change configuration once we got underway, the leaders stayed there through the whole circuit of the island.

About a third of a way around the island I dropped back from the front 10 to around the middle of the group. Or at least, I felt like it was the middle of the pack with about 20 guys ahead of me. I didn't actually look behind me to figure out how many were behind me. I focused on staying with the pack and trying to move up into the group when opportunities presented themselves.

As expected, riding at a high pace in a pack reduces your focus on anything besides what's going on around you. Looking for on-coming cars, overtaking cyclists from the prior race, and watching for gaps and movements of those ahead was the entire focus of my mind. In spite of that, the only other thing I noticed was the smooth hum of the wheels on the pavement, the ratcheting of freehubs, and the creak of crank arms.

I did well, avoided causing any accidents or being in any. I was bumped once by another rider moving up through the pack and swerved into someone's line once to avoid a storm drain at Beavertail Light. I saw two guys go down beside me when one of his tires popped and another rider failed to avoid him when his bike went sideways. Otherwise, no accidents that I saw.

I got dropped by the main pack on the final hill, having given everything I had to keep up and not having enough strength or reserves to push up the last and probably hardest hill on the course at any sort of speed.

Crossing the finish, I had jitters of another sort. I'd heard and read about training so hard that you vomit and while I didn't quite experience that, I'd say I was close. I needed to wait a few minutes after finishing before I could drink, walking back to the car to give my body some recovery rather than riding it.

I finished the single 19.1 mile lap 24th out of 39 finishers (there were 50 registered racers). Not bad for not training. An average of 22.4 miles/hour and finished under a minute behind the lead pack of about 18 riders.

the lead 5Image by OO7fish via FlickrThe Category 4 and Pro Racers were running their laps around their laps at around 46 minutes, compared to the Cat5 races in the 48 to 50 minute range. Its amazing to me how demanding a one mile-per-hour difference in speed can be. Perhaps someday I'll be in good enough training shape to run a Cat 4 race.