Yesterday I completed my first road cycling race at the first of three training races around Mason Lake north of Shelton, WA. Our starting group (Category 5) was around 50 riders by my estimation. Within our group, I recognized several riders from my racing in the 2007 cyclocross season. We rolled out as a fairly tight group for about half of the first lap. Then, there was a single rider crash mid-group, probably from a touched wheel. Up to that point, there was a lot of stop-and-go jerkiness to the group, which could have easily led to this crash. He was about 5 bike lengths ahead of me, but those behind, including myself were able to ride between the bike and the fallen rider (Sorry, dude!)
I was able to sprint back up to the main group, and several others were left behind in a momentarily split group. We maintained a pace of about 24 mph around the rest of the lake until the last 1000 meters of the lap. At that point, the pace increased quite a bit, and I was left behind on the incline leading up to the start/finish line. End of Lap 1.
Laps 2 and 3 were fairly low key and consisted of trying to maintain a quick pace. I was overtaken at the tail-end of the second lap by the Masters C/D group which started about 5 minutes behind us. I worked my way back to the back of the group were I found a few of my group riding, which is allowed in these races. I stayed with them as long as I could, but they carried on without me, much as my own group did on yet another incline. What’s with these inclines?
I was left to my final lap with another rider from my race who turned out to be not too chatty, or interested in working together to avoid some of the wind on the course. In the end, I sped up my pace in the last mile and finished the race about 200 meters in front of him, for whatever that was worth. At least by doing so, I was assured that I hadn’t finished last… for whatever that was worth, too.
In the end, my two goals were met: First, staying upright for the entire race, and, second, finishing the race in whatever time it took, hopefully not last.