Hows this for a bit of complete randomness, motivated entirely by the Commerce Bank Triple Crown the weekend prior:
Friday night Perez convinces my roommate and myself that it would be an awesome idea to enter a race this weekend (Sunday). You know, only a few days after we all decided to seriously train for one… Except the one we were training for was over two months away. This race was less than two days away, at 7:50am, in middle-of-nowhere New Jersey. Woo!
All day Saturday is spent buying last minute supplies and some necessary extras for the bike race as well as getting in a nice recovery ride. We end up staying out on Saturday night until around 1am and setting our alarm clocks to wake us up at 5am. That’s the perfect amount of sleep you need when you have a race the next day…
We awaken at the prescribed time and start the drive to New Jeresey, in seperate cars no less, each taking a seperate route. That results in the following scenario an hour and ten minutes later: Perez is waiting for us at the course, I’m lost on some back road in New Jersey and no one has heard from my roommate. I finally manage to find my way after my Blackberry and Google maps saved the day (again). At this point the race is starting in less than 30 minutes and I still have to register and set up my bike. I love rushing. Finally the roommate makes it to the course, with even less time to spare.
As I am unpacking my bike, I hear the two cyclists next to me talking about how much they hate people who show up at races with unshaved legs, mountain shoes (as opposed to road) and a teeshirt (as opposed to a racing shirt). I think to myself, “Wow, I’m really glad I was able to cross all of that off my list before today !)
Even after all of that we all managed to make it to the starting line on time. However we suddenly hear a woman start yelling at Perez: “You can’t wear a sleveless shirt in the race!” She then tells him she will hold the race while he goes back to his car to change into the only other thing he has… a teeshirt. This whole thing is looking awesome already. After Perez’s moment of embarassment, we are all back on the start line and ready to go. Four 9.5 mile laps around the course and than a sprint finish.
The race starts and we are looking around us… we realize that we are pretty much the only non-racing club individuals in the race. A bit intimidating. We also realize that the start was a little faster than we expected, but completely manageable. After crusing along for about a mile and a half, the entire pelaton stops short, this causes me to nick the tire of the person in front of me. They were fine, but I start wobbling like crazy and almost go down. This also caused me to fall off the pelaton and have to really work to catch back up. I manage to get back in rather quickly and start crusing along again. I work my way into the middle and I hoped that I could stay there.
A bit of background right here:
My roommates bike has been suffering a lot as of late. He has gone through 7 tire tubes and three actual tires. We have no idea why it keeps popping after a few miles.
Lo and behold, my roommates tire pops at the three mile mark, and he is out of the race (the tire had a hole in it, no way to repair without an extra tire, and not worth it unless that extra tire is on a wheel.)
As we approached the first turn I hopped on the wheel of a rather large man I thought would provide a nice draft. Unfortunately coming out of the turn he decided he didn’t want to peddle anymore and was going to take a water break. Once again, I am detached from the pelaton. This time as I work to catch back up, I pass this poor girl who was also dropped as she mutters “Well, that was quick…” and falls signifigantly behind. By the second turn the entire field had split and I was pretty much on my own.
I managed to pass a few people who didn’t want to share the work to catch back up… I also later found out these people withdrew from the race on the second lap. On my second lap around, I see my poor roommate walking his bike back the three miles to the start, apparently there wasn’t any room in the car that follows for him and his bike. (Note to self, bring an extra everything with you when you race).
I also saw a nasty crash between two people on my third lap. I later found out that one guy broke his wrist and the other his collar bone.
A mere 38 miles later, the race is over and I managed to finish within my goal (under two hours). Not an impressive race by any means, but than again it was my first one, and I did not seriously prepare. However I am left with a better impression of how these things actually work and what to expect at the Cat 4/5 level: Lots of crashes and a wide range of “seriousness”.