As a former swimmer (“swammer,” as my friends like to call it), and currently a triathlete, I’ve been through the gamut of swimming and running races, but have inexplicably never participated in a bike race. I had planned on riding in the local TallyCross Cyclocross race late November/early December of last year, but was sick and opted to not race. Hung out, spectated, shot some pictures, and met some people. Recently, I’ve been trying to go out once every other week or so to ride with one of the local group rides, and I heard about a local stage race just a quick drive out of town, over in Gadsden County. With my coach’s approval, I headed over yesterday after I finished coaching to register, and watch the time criterium (crit!) race.
And my, between the few hours I spent at the races yesterday and today, while I wouldn’t say that I’ve been totally immersed in cycling culture, but I did get to experience a culture and competition that I hadn’t before.
Yesterday, after I registered, I hung out and watched a couple of the crits. MAN!! What speed! That’s a super exciting race to watch, and I imagine a relatively difficult race to compete in – as they are between forty minutes and an hour, and raced at a high intensity. For those unfamiliar with the crit racing style, it’s basically a short technical loop ridden at high speed in a group setting.
The crit yesterday took place in downtown Quincy, and that was quite a pretty backdrop for the intense racing.
Today was more exciting for me! My first bike race – what was supposed to be an eight mile time trial (solo race, with only the goal of speed in mind), turned out to be about about 6.3 miles. It was intriguing, albeit short. Painful though. 15:28 of burning leg muscles, then it was all over!
I’ll do it again…I know I can go faster! But I wasn’t displeased with my performance this morning, and then after I finished it was pretty interesting to watch the other TTers come and go.
To me though, aside from competing in a whole new form of athletics, it was most interesting to see how quickly cyclists can turn themselves on and off. They all hang out, cheer each other on, drink beer, make merry, then BOOM they’re in race mode and’ll bitch you out if you look at them wrong. Legs pump, teeth grit, sweat flies, blood [occasionally spills], and then they’re done, they rinse off, and change into chic clothes and wait until the next stage.
Super cool, but not my cup of tea; I’ve not been too keen on the group riding aspect of bike racing, but I did enjoy getting to push myself in a solo TT today, and I know I want to race another one and see if I can do better.