Now is the time when I need to register for the spring race series that takes place in my town (1 1/2 miles from my house — so convenient!), and I can’t figure out which race to register for. My first race ever was at this series in the women’s field, and I lasted about three laps (less than 3 miles) before getting dropped, at which point I switched to the men’s category 5 field (beginning racers) and did much better. I raced with them the rest of that first season and last year’s season as well.But maybe it’s time to try the women’s field again. The women’s field has racers of all experience levels, and so is faster. I’m in better shape than I was last time I rode with them, but I’m not sure I’m fast enough, and I’m not sure I want to work that hard. Here’s what I’m thinking:

Reasons to ride with the women:

  • Maybe it’s just time to try something harder, and if I don’t do well I can probably switch back for the rest of the series.
  • I did ride in a women’s race last summer and managed to hang on to the end, and so maybe I can do it in this spring series too.
  • If I don’t, I will probably feel wistful when I see the women race and will wonder how I would have done.
  • Riding with the women will be hard, but that means I will get in shape faster (assuming I can hang with them at all).

Reasons to ride with the men:

  • I’m more likely to be able to stay with the men’s field the whole race and will therefore get more experience riding in a pack, which I need.
  • Last year I was finishing in the middle or even towards the front of the pack (the best I did was 13th place, I think, out of maybe 40 starters). If I can do this again, I’ll get experience being in the finishing sprint, something that has only happened to me a couple times. I don’t know well enough what finishing with the sprinters is like.
  • The category 5 men on my team are my buddies — they love it that I race with them, they encourage me, and they are really happy for me when I do well. The team captain recently encouraged me to ride with them again this year.
  • I don’t like early season races because it’s just way too early; I’m not in my best shape. Nobody else should be either, but I get the feeling people train specifically for these races and there are lots of very strong people out there. I prefer to focus on races that occur later in the season, which means that I’m only now beginning to train hard.¬† So why not ride with the easier group?

The series doesn’t begin until March, so I have some time, but I really don’t know what to do! I feel unfocused in my training this year, as I’m thinking about competing in triathlons, but I’m not ready for them yet, but I’m also not fully focused on the cycling either. It’s like I’m not really giving my best to anything this year. But that’s okay — I feel like I need some transition time from one sport to the other, and I’m not in all this for the competition, really. I’d just as soon train and not race, except for the fact that races give me something to work toward.


3 comments so far

  1. Jenny on

    Ride with the men, and with the goal of building towards triathlon season over the summer. If you were keeping the central bike focus, it would make sense this spring to force the transition into riding with the women, but it seems to me the happier and healthier choice (but still very demanding and challenging, don’t get me wrong!) to ride with the men. Esp. because if you don’t mind me saying, I strongly have the impression that in cycling circles the men are rather more friendly than many of the women! (Delete this comment if likely to offend anyone, obviously there are lovely exceptions to any such generalizations!)

  2. josh on

    simple. do both.

    i’d say start w/ the women. the first one will be hard, there are always some who are in super shape in march….they make the rest of us hurt for a month, but come may the tables are turned. if after two or three you can’t hang and are hating life, go to the men.

    my 0.02

  3. Dorothy W. on

    Jenny — I would do exactly what you say, except I won’t be ready for triathlons this summer — I haven’t gotten in the pool yet and probably won’t till summer! Duathlons maybe. But you’re right that if my focus really isn’t on cycling, then there’s no sense in pushing myself so hard.

    About the gender stuff, I’ve heard both men and women making that same claim. I’ve found that the men are very friendly to me — but I’m not sure they are always terribly friendly to each other (not that that matters in this case). I’ve found the men to be more welcoming, but I also ride with them much more often.

    Josh — doing both would work! Yeah, right. Nice suggestion, though. I wish I were strong enough to ride both. Ack — I’m getting all this contradictory advice and am no closer to a decision!

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