So I've finally succombed to the racing bug and have raced the last two weekends in a row (well, the Sunday road races, anyway) and I've been having a good time so far.
The first race was the Tour de Tuscaloosa road race. The cat 5 race was three laps of a ten mile loop, and the loop had a fair bit of climbing. The roll-out was pretty chill, and after about three miles in, I tried to pull a kamikaze solo move. Truth be told, I was hoping someone else would roll off with me, but no dice. I dangled out in front of the peloton for a few miles before getting swallowed up. The rest of the race was basically survival, and I ended up sprinting in the group I finished with, finishing 32nd out of 50 (and for the record- that guy passed me with about 10 meters to go after not having done any work at all).
This past weekend was the Cuba Road Race in Cuba, Alabama. The race was 83 miles with 6000 ft of climbing over mild to rough chip seal- basically the exact sort of race that I would like. The only thing missing was rain and temperature in the 40s, although I was probably the only person there hoping for those conditions.
This time I managed to contain myself and not roll off the front early. About halfway through the first of four laps I realized I'd forgotten to bring any food and more than two gels, and shortly thereafter I hit a rough patch of road and it ejected one of my bottles of Cytomax. I managed to get a second bottle of water on the next lap's feed zone, but still no food. Somehow I managed to not go too far into the red and avoid cramping.
The climbs weren't too steep, and unless the pace dropped, I rode them in the big ring. Twice, however, when I shifted to the small ring I dropped my chain and couldn't get it back on without getting off my back. That meant chasing back on- uphill, no less. Fortunately the group wasn't going too fast, so I didn't ever have to chase for more than a minute.
A break of two guys went up the road and managed to stay away. Coming in to the home stretch, two other guys rolled off with about a mile to go, and then the bunch was a few seconds behind them. I was well positioned in the bunch for the uphill sprint, and ended up about 6th or 7th out of the bunch. I ended up 5th for cat 5, and about 12th overall for the 4-5-women's race.
Overall, I'm happy with how I've been feeling at the races, and I think that longer races suit me better. Within a few races I should be able to cat up to 4, so that'll automatically mean longer races (albeit with stronger riders), which may work in my favor. Here's to hoping that I manage to keep progressing.
And for inspiration:
"As long as I breathe, I attack."
- Bernard Hinault