This past week was a good and uneventful week. I got my strength workouts in as well as some good riding. I made sure that my legs were rested up for the race on Saturday.
Saturday’s race was at 10:10 so I got to sleep in a bit. I had a nice power breakfast with my strong coffee. I left the house at the time I would normally start riding and got there an hour early. I went to the registration desk. I had preregistered but they couldn’t find me in the book. After some searching they found me and gave me a number, 911. I refused the number and for good reason. They gave me #912. I got my bike together and we started getting ourselves together. My girl was given the wrong type of number and had to return to the registration desk. They offered her #911 and she also refused and took #913. We pinned our numbers on and ate our gels to prepare.
We did a warmup lap as she described the course to me and told me a few things I would need to know. It was windy and we only had a small section of tailwind. She introduced me to the ladies that we would be racing with. There were only a few of us, 7 in total. These ladies were all very experienced. I was nervous but I tried to remain calm, collected, and optimistic.
The men started first. My girl wished her husband good lucked and I cheered as they pulled away. We lined up and the photographer took pics of us. I hung in for about a half of a lap. I should’ve tried harder to hang in. I could’ve stood up to try and keep up but I was in a haze, probably from nerves. The corners were tough, they weren’t sharp turns but I wasn’t used to it. I knew I’d been left behind but I didn’t want to embarrass myself. My second goal kicked in which was not to get lapped. I kept going as hard as I could sustain for 45 minutes. I was starting to get a good flow into the turns, pedaling into them and taking them tight. A couple laps in someone had dropped a black water bottle. That water bottle was halfway to the tailwind after the first turn and became a landmark to me. The photographer on the course took a few pics of me when I passed him. Every time I passed the start/finish line I was cheered on. All of these things made me feel very special. They didn’t care that I was last, they cheered me on to hang in there. The guys passed me a couple times and my friend cheered me on as he passed. The ladies still hadn’t passed me. Every time I heard someone coming up from behind me I was sure it was them but it never was.
About 40 minutes into it I made the turn towards the start/finish line. The ladies came up behind me. I knew I’d been lapped but I sped up to catch them so I could at least ride with them for the last lap. They were going hard but I came up behind them. The LCD screen read Finish. Damn, it was over a few minutes early. My girl was out of breath but I asker her if I was finished and she said yes. I wasn’t sure if I had another lap and I would’ve done it to complete the race but it went by time, not by laps. I asked if she won, she said she came in 2nd. I nodded. I wasn’t surprised at all. I didn’t even congratulate her, I have since, but I didn’t then. She wins, that’s what she does, she’s great at racing.
Afterwards we were offered water and fruit. The ladies congratulated each other. As soon as we were alone I cried. I was so emotional. I completed something I was scared of, something I avoided. I didn’t want to do it without my girl. I look to her for guidance as she knows what she’s doing. All my accomplishments came to mind and I was happy I did it. I couldn’t believe I did it. I completed my first crit race!!
The other ladies called my girl over to take a pic and I came along with her. We took a pic together and then they did the podium pics. Afterwards one of the ladies demanded that we get something and they gave us random items. I got a stash can that fits in my bottle cage and a tube, my girl got a saddle bag. We said goodbye to the ladies after engaging in polite conversation. They could care less that I was even there. I later learned that I wasn’t lapped earlier because the lades were slowed down to offer the right of way to the men. Even so I was still very happy about my accomplishment and walked on air for the rest of the day.
On Sunday I showed up to the group ride to find that there really wasn’t a group for me so I went on the faster ride. It was supposed to be 50 miles but I got 2 flats and we cut it short to 32. It wasn’t the nicest day. The roads were wet but drying. It was overcast with periods of mist and sun. I was just happy to get a ride in. Of course I apologized profusely for holding the ride up.
It’s so sweet that everyone is so encouraging. Everyone is telling me that I may have come in last but at least I showed up. My girl made it a point to tell me that her first race didn’t go as well as mine and that I chose a tough one to get started on. What do I think? I think that they’re right and that every time I do it I’ll learn something from it and get better each time. I won’t let my poor performance discourage me. I will get better though training and experience.