In the days leading up to my first road race I was growing increasingly nervous. Would I get dropped? Would I get dropped on the first lap or the last lap? Or instead, do I have a shot at the podium? Will they start the Cat 4s after the 1/2/3s or will I really have to race with these crazy fast roadie ladies? If we all race together, can I really keep up or will I get dropped? And so it continues, much like the song that never ends.
And much like the song that never ends, at some point you just have to stop signing it.
The race started out hard, but not too hard. For the first few laps I had a little trouble staying as close as I should to the pack, but I think that was based more on my own nervousness, lack of confidence, and inexperience than anything else. As I started to realize that I could in fact hang on for the entire race, it became much easier to do so. My spectating teammate, Marc, admitted that early on I was making him nervous because I looked like I was about to get shot out the back of the pack. But really, I just felt more comfortable where I could see everyone and knew I wouldn’t cause a crash because I did something stupid. But in reality, I just ended up behind other people who are more likely to do something stupid than I am, like this one really twitchy super annoying girl I kept trying to get away from.
Each time up the climb it felt like the pack thinned out a bit. Every time we got there I would get stuck behind people and was forced to take it a bit easy. The one time out of 10 laps that I found my way through the field, I ended up in the front of the pack alongside my teammate Mary. I am totally NOT staying in the front, I thought to myself, faked tiredness and slipped back. Mary however stayed in the front, and remained there for pretty much the rest of the race. My slipping back however was not very skillful, and instead of ending up a behind a few people, which I intended, I was all the way in the back again. WTF, why did I just let that happen? Oh well, 4 laps to go. I’ll try to make my way back up. Didn’t happen.
On the last lap I knew it was my last chance to get closer to the front before the climb, but again, didn’t happen. Instead I just settled for a spot close to the middle of the road so I could take advantage of using the full road on the final climb and maybe squeak around some people. Since I didn’t really know the exact spot that we were allowed to use the entire road (not to self: pay more attention next time), I just waited for someone else to cut over and then went for it.
I passed enough people to get 6th in the Cat 4 and I came in 13th in the overall field. Not bad for my first race when my goal was just to hang in there. I was pretty ecstatic for sure. I am however, sure that I could have done better, but now I have a better feel of what to do for next time. Next race: Carl Dolan.