As an avid cyclist I finally decided to take my riding to the next level of fun. Late last fall I joined PAA with the goal of joining their race team and learning as much as I could from them. The first step was joining the Winter Race Training program led by Race Director, Nick Humby. The training is a series of painful interval based workouts (something about throwing up in the dark) and includes lots of information on tactics, pace line, race skills and most importantly setting clear and concrete goals.
Fast-forward a few weeks and I decided to try my first Category 5 race. Fearing the worst (getting dropped) I opted for a Criterium as my first event. This type of event is ideal for my fitness level as the event is short in distance and duration, but with a high intensity (really high!). My pick was the California Bicycle Racing Criterium held in Carson, CA. A course that is 0.9 mile long with 4 right hand turns in an open and wide industrial park.
With the wettest California winter we’ve had in recent history, I was concerned over a wet race so I waited to the very end to register for the event (the morning day of). This required me to wake up at 4:30am to make it there in time. Registration was smooth and easy and I was off to the races! After a quick warmup I lined up at the start line and waited for the whistle. Race started with cheers from the small crowd and we were off. The starting pace was fast and manageable but quickly went to race pace within a corner or two.
I had seen a few YouTube videos of the course but being there was very different. The corners came up very fast and moving up the field was not very easy (moving back was). At the half way point of the race, the field got really strung out due to “prime” laps. I started seeing more and more people fade due to the intensity. With a few laps to go, the group I was in, started to drop from the main field and a gap opened up.
I quickly gave chase and managed to close the gap as the main field approached the uphill part of the course (a short 2% rise). One hard effort followed by another hard effort sent me way into the red and I started to lose touch with the main field as they made their way to the start/finish line. To my surprise 2 other riders had come along with me during the previous gap closure. We managed to work together and stay as close as we could to the main field bringing up the tail end of race.
I finished the event in 56th place out of 75 riders. My first race was exhilarating and I can’t wait to do it again. I clearly have a lot of work ahead of me but as the main goal is fun and fitness I look forward to it with open arms. See you at the races!
Cat 5 Racer
Age: 40 yrs