Rush home, gather things for work/ breakfast, ride to work, settle in to work environment, let the caffeine ware off and relax….
Let’s get right into it shall we?
I didn’t have a clear game plan as far as my first race in a new category was concerned. After picking the brains of those who have (and are currently) racing in the 3’s, I still find myself trying to fully absorb and acknowledge everything that was said. I had a few expectations as anyone in their right mind would. Things like, “how much faster and aggressive are things going to be?” And “Is this new race duration going to be that big a difference. Alas, I had made it my new goal to collect as much data as possible for the race.
In doing so, I took a more submissive role during the race in an attempt to get a feel for the way other riders behaved. Some of the key details I’ve discovered are as follows:
My fitness from training and racing this year has transferred over well. I’m not putting in 24 hour weeks on the bike anymore, and when I go hard, I make sure that it is with a purpose, when I’m fresh, and that I get plenty of time to rest afterwards. 12 hours a weeks seems to be appropriate at this point in time. Perhaps when things get a long longer in time and distance I might need to up the ante.
Everyone mentions that the pace is a lot smoother in the 3’s. I can confirm this. That’s not to say that no one at the race hit their brakes at any point in time. I’m convinced that every race is going to be surge at different points in time. This time around, the differences in speed aren’t as severe in the earlier categories. Some people still ease on the brakes before hitting sharper corners (as they should) but go right back to the steady pace that would make one question their decision to get up front and make a move.
This wasn’t as big of a deal as I thought. That being said, my laid back approach to the race had me mid pack the majority of the time. There were a few times where I made advances in the wind to keep a good position, but never felt too winded afterwards. I find that I care most about the numbers I’m getting from power and cadence. When you find a balance between the two that fits your riding style, everything else is relative and less important (in the race setting.)
Since my race time nearly doubled from my past two races, I felt like the added time keeps things more under control. I found myself thinking, “you mean we have 45 more minutes of this left?!” Not because I was tired. Riding in circles can put a mental damper on you that may or may not transfer to your riding. My landmark turned into the 25 minute mark because that is the usual length of time my previous category races for. Once we hit that, I still felt like I had the legs to do well when the time came. Thus leading me to my final observation.
At this point in one’s cycling career, we have had our share of races we’ve participated in. If you’re like me and upgraded through number of races, you certainly have enough races under your belt to get an idea of the flow of a race. With the number of races comes experience and comfort. In this category there are many riders who are comfortable in their abilities.
I’ve seen some sketchy riders throughout the years. So has everyone else in my category. The difference is they’ve learned to adapt to the ebb and flow of things. Some may touch, and some may bump. Almost everyone gets a little upset, but very rarely is there a moment of panic and unsafe behavior as a result. This is an accepted part of racing, the likes at which I still find myself learning to accept.
I tried to tell myself that this was going to happen days before the race. However it’s one thing to say such things, and another to be able to perform them. So much social conditioning has taught us to avoid near accidents such as when people get too close at high speeds. It takes some real mental rewiring to learn to remain calm and not give that person their space once they attempt to swing out next to you. In my case this is nearly impossible as people tend to bunch up in the turns. This seems to be the norm for most racers.
I’d be lying if I said a slew of confidence hadn’t entered me with my recent success in winning preems and getting credible results. This was mainly due to my regiment of interval training and general fitness from structured training. Mind you I’m not on some super calorie restrictive diet at this point in time (you’ve gotta leave some wiggle room to improve when you become one of the elite. If you’ve got the high end bike, long hours of structured training, and a bare-essentials diet AND you’re not on the elite pro level, you might want to consider a different goal if it was originally to reach that peak elite status.) I like to think of it as being mindful about my meals. There is a deal of portion control now, but I am in no way famished.
While my fitness has carried over to this new category well, I feel it is now time to develop the real chops that the majority of established bike racers possess. I am able to react when being bumped, that being said it is done against my will and as a last resort. Much like the kid who is able to swim but still fears the water, I just need to be pushed into this new foreign environment. I know I’m suited to do well, it’s a matter of getting my feet wet and my skin a little thicker.
I just realized there was no nitty gritty to the way the race turned out. Ok, here it goes.
The pace was tame for the first half of the race. There was the usually advances going on from the outsides of the group. To which I latched on occasionally to have a better view of the front. No real breaks were made. One group of three tried to get something going with 25 minutes to go. To which I moved up and waited for someone to initiate the chase. This didn’t work out and I decided to burn a match to bridge said gap. I’d like to think I did so without wasting too much energy. As I said before, I’m paying a lot more attention to power generated and felt like I had that effort in me. With three to go there was a big crash before turn 3. I was too far behind to be affected by it. Things started to stay bunched up from there to the end of the race. To which I decided to keep things safe and not ride completely anxious in fear of making some skittish mistake. I ended with a mid pack finish and was able to see the front of the race sprint it out for first.
There’s my race report. No further questions please. Until next time….