I woke up early today at 4:30 AM to get ready for my first Criterium race. I had some oatmeal and fruits in the car as I headed to the Dominguez Hills Memorial Day Crit! It was nice to see five other PAA racers there doing the Cat 5 as we pinned our numbers to our jersey and started to warm up. Since the Cat 5’s are always the first to race, I was fortunate enough to warm up using the actual race course, providing me a big advantage as I scouted the course for any debris or risky turns.
Using the experience from my past two races, I ran strategies in my mind, remembering things like not breaking away too early and being patient. Right before the race started, I squeezed a strawberry banana power gel in my mouth and we were off! The race started at a pretty mellow pace averaging anywhere from 22-24 mph. I rode as smart as I could, staying mid pack and letting the bigger guys shield me from the wind. Using this strategy, I was able to conserve an immense amount of energy. With five laps to go, I started moving up.
By the 2nd to last lap, I was in my planned position of top ten. However, things usually don’t go to plan and I was in a bad line. When the last lap came around, my lane slowed down and I was swarmed by about ten guys on both sides, pushing me back into the main peloton. Without any other option, I made my move and took some wind to get back to the front putting me in top five right before the last turn to the finish line. With a heart rate of 203, power output at 540 watts, and speed of 34 mph, I exerted everything I had left a hundred feet from the finish line and was happy to finish at fifth place. This was truly a successful race for me since I was only hoping for a top ten finish. This fast pace race and the exciting nature of it is calling me to return for more!