Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sun, Sep 26 - 6th Oakland Grand Prix

Today was the first day of my new career: bike racer.

I had signed up earlier this week for the 6th Oakland Grand Prix in the 35+5 category. It turned out that I was the only one from my new club, Peninsula Velo, that had registered for this event. This morning I arrived early, got a 1-day license and bib#, and waited for things to come. I didn't really know what to expect, except that it would be fast and furious. One advice I got, was to hang on to someone's wheel, and I'd be good; it turned out to be a good advice. The course was an approximate 0.85-mile loop through Oakland Downtown streets, and apart from an incline on the finish stretch, it was flat or slightly downhill. The course also had a hairpin turn, which you were advised to only pass single-file. Both the downhill sections and the hairpin provided sufficient opportunity and time to recover before hitting the finish stretch again. The race started at 10:30am, for 20 laps or 17 miles. From then on it was a blur. As advised, I tried to stay covered, and only once I got "stranded" in no-man's land for half a lap between the first two in the break-away and the pack, before the pack swallowed me up. It was rather uneventful apart from one rider crashing, and another one breaking his chain. At some point, I had lost track of which lap we were in. I asked another rider because I couldn't understand the race announcer. The answer was "2" while I still expected maybe 8 laps to go. So soon, the bell for the final lap rang, and the pace picked up. I hung onto the wheel of someone, who after the race said that he kind of started to bonk during the last two laps, and my attempt to make up some ranks came too late. Alas, it was 9th or last place, but still within maybe 10 seconds of the winner and 2-3 bike lengths between 8th place and me. The whole race was over so quickly. I didn't pay much attention to the speed while racing, but I was surprised to see "26" once going up that finish stretch. Final, average speed was 22mph, courtesy of slower speed when recovering. Irrespective of being last, I was happy to place, because my goal was to just survive. Finishing was even better, and "in the top 10" sounds great ;-). Not finishing last is the goal for the next race.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tue, Sep 14

Well, the "taking it easy" year has come to an end. While I decided not to race the Mount Diablo Challenge this year, and while the bike race season is winding down, I have grown the idea to add bike racing to my life experiences. Over the last few weeks, I have signed up with USA Cycling, received a license number (but no actual license yet), have participated in a few club rides, ramped up cycling a bit, and finally signed up with the local Peninsula Velo Cycling Club. So far, so good. I'm still exploring whether or not to sign up for one of the last, local criteriums this year, the 6th Oakland Grand Prix on Sep 26. As of today though, this event is not yet permitted according to USAC. But one step at a time. Experienced Cat 3 racer Rant suggested to race myself into shape, instead of just training for the race. Apparently, there are these progressions in racing:
1. Survive (or DNP ;-))
2. Finish
3. Not finish last
I guess I will be spending considerable amount of time in stage 1, but you have to start somewhere.