I’ve been riding and training for the better part of 13 years, but so far the only racing I’ve done has been XC racing. Over the past 6 or so years I’ve become more more of a roadie than mountain biker, but still hadn’t pulled the trigger on signing up for a “crit.”
An unsanctioned 4 race series popped up at a local purpose built criterium course and I thought that would be a good place to get my feet wet. It was just a 30 minute race. I signed up for the “C” group, which was described as 4-5. There were about a dozen other riders.
Lining up at the start, I sized the others up and figured I’d be one of the strongest in the field. That said, I proceeded to make as many newbie mistakes as I could. We got out to a moderate pace with me on the front and despite looking back a lot, easing up at times, I was having a hard time getting the group to pull through. I was a bit worried (unneccesarily so) that the pace wouldn’t be hard enough to make a selection so I couldn’t convince myself to just stop pedalling and slot in somewhere. After two laps on the front, I was spared one lap, thankfully, only to end up on the front for the fourth. The fifth lap was a Preem lap and I led about 3/4 of it before we were attacked on the hill (pretty big for a crit course) by the ultimate winner of the race. Nobody was able to follow, especially me since I was a bit gassed on the hill being on the front so much. The only smart thing I did when the race director chastized us to “work together” to catch that dude and some of the other guys laughed at the idea was tell them “we’re going to lose to THAT guy if you don’t” and that got another strong guy to take up the chase. He chased him down on the sixth, but again I ended up on the front for laps 7, 8, and 9 mostly. On the 10th and final lap, the guy attacked again on the same climb and got away by about 30 seconds. 3 of us started to gap the rest of the group on the climb, but two of us opened a bit of a gap on the 4th guy. I smartly sat in the draft from the other guy until the sprint. We sprinted too early and I dropped him, but the 4th guy had more in the tank and caught me just before the line. I ended up 3rd. Was a bit disappointed with that given the fact that I did way too much work and sprinted too early, along with numerous other smaller mistakes, but was happy with the accomplishment overall. I probably also didn’t help my cause by doing a threshold workout in the morning, but I didn’t really care. I was just trying to get a race under my belt.
I have another sanctioned race tomorrow, probably with a slightly more experienced field, but hoping to learn something there also.
It’s very humbling that a 300+ watt FTP and 4w/kg means almost nothing in a beginner race, but hopefully my tactics will get better and I’ll be more effective.