First One In the Bag

I’m sat here writing the latest blog post with a slight ache in my legs and an awful lot of learning points to muddle through.

Saturday marked my first entry in to a local crit race, the Archer Spring Crit at The Hillingdon Cycle Circuit.  How did I get on I hear you ask, well let’s start with a bit of background.  I’ve done precisely no bunch riding in my entire road cycling career so far.  I’ve ridden with a friend, and I’ve completed a fair amount of mileage on my own.  But nothing in a group.  So with that in mind I had hoped to be able to sit in the pack and finish in the bunch.  I wasn’t aiming for a particular result or to get involved in any sprints.

So how did I get on?  Well I sat in the bunch for the first 3/4 of the race, working out how to find gaps and make the most of the shelter in the group.  I got past the first intermediate sprint, and settled back in once the pace dropped back down.  Unfortunately, when the pace picked up for the second intermediate sprint I dropped straight out of the bunch as I paid the price for working hard early on.  As a result, I didn’t manage to finish, and dropped out after 43 minutes.

So I didn’t quite achieve my target, which was frustrating.  But I did learn more in 43 minutes than I have in my last few years on a bike.  Crit racing is hectic, borderline chaotic at times but there’s a sort of unspoken order to the bunch that I was starting to understand.  I’ll be back at Hillingdon next Tuesday for shorter, 4th cat only race.  The key for me is is to go racing as often as I can until I can keep pace and really get involved in proceedings.

As I had half expected, the bug has bitten.  One perhaps surprising outcome of the race was the fact that my little Trek Madone 2.1 held it’s own well in the bunch, despite it being full of much higher specced carbon bikes.  It was my legs that held me back, not the bike.  I’ve always liked its predictable handling, and that was a definite bonus in a tight pack at higher speeds than I’m used too.

The plan is to review my training plan and keep the improvements going, and I’ll be blogging that in more detail over the coming days and weeks.  For now though, I’m off to the gym.