The Take-Aways: Lessons from Race Number One
Now that I’ve had a chance to decompress and give you the dramatic version of the race report, it’s time to take a step back and do some super boring analysis. The experience taught me a few things and they’re important.
There were a few things that I expected and a few that came as a surprise.
Things that happened the way I thought they would:
- I knew that riding on the back would generally suck and that riding on the front was a better option. This was confirmed on more than one occasion as I sling-shotted around at the back of the pack when the pace fluctuated.
- I knew I would need to defend my position. This became one of the most interesting parts of the race for me. Even riding in neutral, I found that I had to be very careful not to allow the slightest gap to open in front or someone would come and fill it (even in neutral!!!)
- I knew I would suffer on the climbs. I haven’t been climbing. Actually, this wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be, but I still suffered. Specifically, I got shelled hardcore on the final climb up Lee Hill. Pow pow pow! That hurt.
What surprised me:
- The pace was fast, but completely manageable. My fitness is better than I thought. I have not done a lot of pack riding and I was impressed by how much faster I could go while in a group. I’ve been reading about it and watching it for years, but experiencing the speed of the peloton was really amazing.
- I found riding in a pack quite easy and comfortable. Once in the pack, I was not at all worried about being so close to other riders. This was something I was very nervous about going into the race.
- I screwed up the hydration component of my ride. After all the smack I talk on this blog about nutrition and hydration, it was a real drag to roll up to the car at the end of the race and look down to realize that I’d only consumed half a bottle of water. When the body is dehydrated, it goes to the blood for what it needs. When it goes to the blood, it descreases the amount of blood available to you for your effort. Blood carries oxygen. Oxygen feeds muscles. You get my point. I did not do myself any favors with the lack of drinking. Strangely, I didn’t find it hard (as I’d expected to) to find moments to reach down and grab the bottle, but I was so focused on what was going on around me and how the race was unfolding that I just flat out forgot. The food was the same. I only ate when I saw someone else eating and it reminded me to reach back and grab something. In the 1:40 it took for me to finish, I only had three shot blocks and a half a bottle of water. The amount of food may have been fine, but the amount of water certainly wasn’t.
- 33 miles is a really short ride when you are riding that fast. I knew it would be fast, and 33 miles is sort of child’s play at this point anyway, but damn. Aside from the never-ending second lap, the race was over before I knew it.
- I liked it. I really did not expect to like road racing at all. But there is something about it… For the moment, at least, I’m captivated.