When you race, whether it be skiing, biking or swimming, people who pass you will tell you what side they are passing you. I think its to make for an easy pass and to be as safe as possible. I hate it. In the middle of the pack I get people yelling at me all the time “on your left” or “on your right.” It pisses me off because its one more person forcing me to stay in the middle of the pack.
Saturday, Nate and I decided to jump start the bike season by heading down to Durand for the annual Durand Road Race. Nate told me its an easy lap race and is only 13 some miles. I said “sweet, let’s do it.” This was my first road race so on Thursday evening I decided to jump online and get more info about the race, like when is registration, how much is the race, and what is road racing all about? Nate failed to notice that our race is two laps around a 13 mile loop. So our first race is going to be 27 miles long on a tough and windy course. I was thanking Nate on he way down for this wonderful 27 miles of pain that he talked me into doing!
Un-announced to me, road races are way different than mountain bike racing. Its the same atmosphere but different mind-set and looks. The first thing I learned was that you need a license to race. What the heaven, a license? Second, there is a limit on how many riders can race. And third, everyone who shows up looks like they are a professional and are fast.
Road races are broken down in categories, CAT 1,2,3 are pros. CAT 3 and 4 are semi-pros if you will. Because it was my first road race and my first race of the year, Nate and I decided we begin the race in the middle of the pack by riding CAT 5, all 42 riders.
The pros took off and in seconds they were out of eye sight. Group after group left and within 10 minutes it was our turn. Nothing fancy, just the 5 second warning then “go.”
From the start Nate and I found ourselves out front and in the lead pack of nine to eleven riders. At first I thought this is not good, I need to be further back conserving energy and staying safe. But the course was so windy that you needed to be up front and tight with the riders wheel in front of you just so you can draft and get some pull from them.
The course was rolling with two big cimbs at miles 8 and 9. I lost the pack at the second big climb but worked with Nate and another rider to catch the pack again and settle in. coming through the first lap we had a tail wind and the group managed a 33 mph speed. I could feel us separating more and more from the rest of the riders.
The second lap was much like the first. Careful riding and tricky positioning was the key to stay out of the cross winds. With four miles to go Dan Berhow and Nick Vetter attacked and broke away from the lead pack and put an end to the friendly riding. I finished 9th overall. Nate ended up dropping back a couple of seconds and mustered out a top fifteen finish.
Not bad for a rider who typically is in the middle of the pack. Well, actually I was in the front of the pack of CAT 5 which was in the middle of the pack at the Durand Road Race. Great day for a race and nice job Nate. Thanks Amy and Carin for the shouts and encouragement!
The next race on the calendar is the Cable Off Road Classic in May. I will be ready for a good hard mountain bike race. I mean…it can’t be harder than Saturday, right?