After watching my wife (Niki) race for the women's team the last couple months, I decided I'd better give racing a try as well. This was my first race. I raced with the Masters 35+ 4/5. Much of it was a blur - I don't know how Michele Feikert remembers the details of every lap! Overall, I had a great time. My primary goals were not to crash and not to get dropped. I achieved both goals. Other things I learned, or which were reinforced through the first-hand experience, include the following: (1) Being near the front of the main group is much easier through the corners and feels safer; (2) Things can change very quickly - I looked around once (2nd or 3rd lap, I think) and noticed that I was at the very back of the pack. I wasn't aware that this had happened. It just did. After that, I made a couple efforts to move back up to the middle of the pack; (3) Pay attention. Watch for squirrelly riders (I tried not to be one of these), road conditions, corners (calling out left or right turns is helpful - one guy next to me said, "Oh, I thought we were turning right," when we were actually turning left. Seems like that could lead to disaster.). Pay particular attention to the finish area and plan ahead. (I knew it was coming up on the last lap, but thought it was earlier than it was, and then all of sudden we passed the 1K mark); (4) people do some unsafe things in a sprint finish, so be prepared - this probably also falls under "plan ahead"; (5) Watch for gaps developing, especially through the corners; (6) Solid food doesn't work for me - takes too long to chew; (7) Don't wait for the last lap to get water at the feed zone - the pack may not neutralize (ours never did that I could tell) and you could get dropped; (8) Carrying an extra bottle in a rear pocket wasn't a problem for me. I didn't notice it and was glad I had it.; (9) I don't think I'm a sprinter, so I'd better come up with a different strategy if I ever want to finish in the top 10; (10) I'm not sure who the riders were up front setting the 27+ mph pace, but I don't think that's ever going to be me! I'm glad they were there, though.

I'm sure these things are second nature to most racers. I'd read and heard about what happens in a race, but there's no substitute for the actual event.

I appreciate all the helpful tips I got from several of the other DBC riders. Sorry I can't remember everyone's name - people look much different with a helmet and sunglasses on! I look forward to future races, and would be happy to help pull, leadout, etc., to the extent I can.


No comments: