Few months ago I started thinking about having a go at cycling racing. I knew it was going to be a challenge so I joined a cycling club (www.watfordvelo.com) for training partners and help with motivation through the winter. The cycling club rides and chain gangs the club organises helped me to achieve a good level of confidence riding very close to other riders. When I felt that my riding skills wouldn’t affect anyone cycling around me, I applied for my BC race licence, chose a race close to where I live and a few days later signed up for it.
Choose a race
The race I chose was Bovingdon Bomber Criterium:
This particular circuit is relatively flat, but in the few hundred meters before the starting line there is a slight uphill followed by a hairpin turn. The full race lasts for 40 minutes plus 5 laps, whatever time it takes for riders to complete the 5 laps.
FWI: A criterium, or crit, is a cycling race that takes place in a closed circuit with a couple of kilometers, and lasts a certain amount of time.
I used the way from my workplace to the circuit as a warm up and rode around the circuit for about 10 minutes before the race started. We all lined up at the starting point at about 19:05, received a simple brief and started the race.
I started the race on the right side of the track which gave me a good starting position right at the beginning of the race. Within 2 or 3 laps everyone found their position and the painful laps started.
During the first few laps I felt strong and that I would be able to finish the race with the bunch. For that reason, on the 6th lap I decided to move up a few places. I had in my mind that I should try to be in between 10 to 15th position for the entirety of the race. That single move proved to be very costly.
Even though I felt well for the few first laps, to be able to move up positions I had to go close to my max for a couple of seconds. A few crank turns after I put my nose in the wind and moved up positions, the slight uphill and hairpin came up. Because of my lack of racing experience I didn’t know how hard it was to sprint out of a corner every minute or so for 40 minutes plus 5 laps ;-]. In that single lap I moved up 3 positions, could not follow all the riders on the way uphill so I lost around 15 positions and lost contact with everyone on the sprint out of the hairpin turn. My race was finished in about 30 seconds because of my lack of fitness and race experience. I did another few laps alone in the circuit decided to finish my first race. But being dropped and cycling with my face in the wind for most of my race proved too much for my lungs.
All the experience was very exciting and I will definitely prepare myself better to go back to the starting line of a race. Now I have a better idea of what it is required to participate in such an event. Examining the race afterwards I can say that the race wasn’t ideal for my fitness and experience, but I think it can be considered as a good practice overall.
Result – DNF
Next training block will be full of sprints and breathing exercises!