Archive for June, 2008|Monthly archive page

Tuesday night race

Another good race tonight, except that I spent too much time near the middle/back of the pack, when I should try to stay near the front. I know that I should try to stay near the front, but when I get out there, the pack makes me nervous and I let people get ahead of me. I worked hard, but I think I could have worked harder — must try next time to be more aggressive! It’s fearfulness in the pack that holds me back more than fitness — I could use some more fitness, but even more I could use some confidence and fearlessness …

Speed: 25 mph; Avg HR: 169; Distance: 18.5 miles.

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Race report: the Housatonic Hills race defeats me again

Update: it turns out I got 18th out of 35 starters — not as bad as I thought.

No, I did not have a particularly good race today. Housatonic Hills is a god-awful road race with horrible hills that make me feel like I’m going to die when I climb them at race pace. This is the third year in a row I haven’t had a good race there. You might wonder why I keep going back, and the only thing I can say is that it’s because of pride. I wouldn’t like to skip a race just because it’s hard and I don’t like it. That sounds wimpy. Perhaps next year I can fake a serious illness??

The race promoters changed the course this year to avoid some patches of rough road that have caused trouble, and this meant that whereas before we had something like 7 miles of flat road to ride before the hills began, this year we had to start the race heading uphill. It was supposed to be a neutral start to the top of the hill, meaning that we would ride up it slowly and only start racing once we’d reached the top, but it didn’t work out that way; instead, since there wasn’t a car at the front of my pack to set the pace as there usually is, people rode up the hill fast, and I reached the actual start of racing already tired. We headed downhill for a bit and I started to feel better, but then we hit another hill, the pack split up, I ended up in the back half of the pack, the back half of the pack split up, and that was that — I was dropped and had over 20 miles left to ride.

It wasn’t completely horrible — I found other women to ride with and we worked together to keep a decent pace, and, of course, it wasn’t all uphill, but still …

I did have fun hanging out with racers afterwards — the social part is often the best thing about bicycle racing, I sometimes feel. And there’s also the feeling of accomplishment — I didn’t finish all that well (I’m guessing I got something like 30th out of 40 riders), but I did ride and finish the damn thing, which is more than most people will do. And I earned the big pasta dinner and ice cream I had this evening. And now I have another year until I have to race that stupid course again.

Two more races

I raced last Sunday and again this evening and thank God there was no crash in either race, although there was some squirrelly riding. But there always is a little bit of that, and the trick is for people to recover without panicking and therefore going down.

So, on Sunday I rode in a women’s open race and did okay, finishing 11th out of 18. There was some bumping right before the final sprint that made me hit my brakes some, and I may have done better if that hadn’t happened, but I’m not sure — by the end of the race I was beat. The odd thing is that our pace wasn’t that fast, relatively speaking — we averaged around 21 mph, when every Tuesday night I average around 25 on the same course. And I felt more tired during the Sunday race than I usually do on Tuesdays. I think the difference is that we had a smaller pack, and so I couldn’t draft as well, and the women tend to pace themselves differently — they’ll go slowly on the flat parts and then sprint up the hill, and that tires me out even though the pace is relatively slow.

Anyway, the race tonight was fine — I finished with no trouble, although at the back of the pack. I had some moments when I rode near the front and that was good; I was trying not to lose my place in the pack and fall too far towards the back — I need to work on being more aggressive and not letting people push me back and take my wheel.

I’ve had a pretty frantic couple weeks with two races a week, but now I have a week off until the next Tuesday night race. Well, not quite a week off — I’m planning another epic 80-mile ride this Thursday.