First Bike Races!!!

As I mentioned in my last blog post, this past weekend would mark my first mass start bike race. A Crit in Buellton, Ca. called the Firewalker Avenue of Flags Criterium. Being a Newb to cycling in every way, I had to start in Cat 5 ( as all new bike racers do ). I wanted to give some of my observations of this absolutely different style of racing.

First, Buellton is conveniently located next door to Santa Ynez where Ashley’s parents live. I decided to stay the night with them to make my morning a little easier. I was the first race at 7am so I headed down there at 6am to make sure I had time to figure out sign ups, deal with any problems and get a good warm up in. Parked right up front in probably the best spot in the house. Headed over and picked up my number and only had one snag when the registration people told me I needed my cycling license. Ummm, I just signed up for USA Cycling and I don’t have my license…besides, the flyer didn’t say anything about making sure you brought a hard copy of your license. They should probably add that to the flier if it is grounds for not being able to race. I smoothed it out and everything was fine.

I was able to warm up on the course, which was very nice. It’s a .7 mile “L” shaped, very wide loop. I really liked it. I saw Corey, who was racing later, and finished up my warm up. My race was 30 minutes. I headed to the start and was ready to go.

We rolled off and the pace stayed mellow for quit some time. There were only a couple attempts to get away from the pack but nobody really gave any real go at it. The pack stayed together the whole race. The time went by very quickly. I was very surprised how easy the pace was. I was expecting it to be much more difficult to hang on to the pack…it wasn’t. I was never in any danger of getting dropped. With about 3 laps to go, I decided to try and make a break for it. I made my move out of the last turn before the finish…it was actually a good move, but I could have absolutely sworn I had a flat tire. I looked down and really couldn’t tell. So I sat up. There was no way I was going to go through the finish and into the first turn and crash my brains out trying to make a break because of a flat tire. I wasn’t going to be “that guy” in the Cat 5 race who thought he was Lance Armstrong and high sided into the crowd. I did, however, manage fry the shit out of my legs. So, when the pace quickened on the last lap, I had enough life left to hang on to the front group but there was no chance to contest the sprint. I wound up finishing 10th place just behind the winners.

I was happy with my performance and my fitness based on how I felt during the race. If I was smarter and made a better move, I might have contended for the win.

A few observations about this particular bike race. I don’t know if these observations hold true for all bike racing because this is the only one I have been to. First, this is a total cool guy contest. Who looks the best is very very important. Which is ok by me because I look awesome….always. The level of equipment compared to Tri’s is a joke. I can go to very large races and be the only guy there with a new Shiv…at this race, my Venge was a dime a dozen. If they didn’t have a Venge, they had a new S-Works SL4 and those were just those dudes with Specialized bikes…you can insert whatever manufacturer and their top of the line model as well. Second, it is very apparent very quickly that most of the guys in my race have no racing background. By that, I mean any type of racing. They are fit but they are so lame at racing. Their cornering skills are atrocious and their lines are a joke. I know from talking to other cyclist who come from racing backgrounds that this holds true pretty much through Cat 3.  I didn’t think it would be as bad as it was.

I really had a great time and I’m definitely looking forward to my next race. My coach, Brian Stover, went over some tactics and based on my power data, he let me know what kinds of moves I would do well to try and incorporate. I can’t leave things to a 30 meter sprint, I gotta try and drill it from 1k…anyway, I don’t want to give too much away.

The very next day I headed to Piru for a 20k TT with Ashley. I kind of pretended I was in a big race and the TT was the final day event…I know, I’m a kook. The TT was something I’m pretty familiar with even though I’ve only done this TT one time before…and it was a 40k. So the distance was new but I was familiar with the course. I got in a quick warm up and started strong. It was a very calm day with perfect conditions. Going out, I was flying. Power was solid but man was I moving. I got to the turn around in high 13’s and thought I was absolutely going to crush this TT. Well, when I turned around I was greeted by the nice head wind that had suddenly popped up and was pushing me out to the turn around. Needless to say, coming home was a lot slower. I finished in 29:16 which was exactly what I predicted so I was happy. Ashley came in at 36:01 with a :53 second improvement from last August. Very nice!

All in all the weekend was great fun. Next up is Mulholland Challenge in two weeks and then De Vlees Huis Ronde Road Race in Bakersfield Ca.

About Dusty Nabor

I'm an Age Group triathlete out of Southern California...
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