09 April 2012

Thoughts and impressions several weeks after the second race

In my last post, I had just finished my first ever road race (an individual time trial), and had alluded to another race here in Southern Arizona in mid-March.

Well, that race (the Tucson Bicycle Classic) has come and gone, and I did race in it.

And I sucked.

Before going into that, I'll go into the race generally. It's a three-day stage race, with an Individual Time Trial, a Road Race, and a criterium in three consecutive days. It has run twenty-six years going, and is extremely well-organized. It's sponsored by TriSports.com, a Tucson-based sports shop (focusing mostly on triathletes and cyclists). They run a tight ship as for the race, and their athletes are well-prepared as well.

Trisports wasn't my problem. My problem was being a fat load. I raced the Time Trial, and did very, very poorly. It wasn't even a long TT, only like 6 miles, but it took me forever to ride it. I did the worst of any rider in my category, and by a long shot (something like 8 minutes behind the next-slowest rider), and the leaders did the TT in less than half the time I rode it. It was really embarrassing.

Then, came the road race. A three-lap ride around Helmet Peak area near Green Valley, AZ. I very nearly missed the start (as I noted in my previous blog entry, I thought I had more time than I did. I thought I had learned from the first race, but apparently not well enough), and then I got dropped by the peleton AT THE START LINE. Basically, I was kind of stuck at the back end anyway, and was not in a good position to begin with, but the group struck out at a pace that I couldn't even start to compete with, and I was fully a hundred meters behind within the first hundred and twenty meters of the race. I proceeded to fall farther and farther behind, so much so that I got passed by my own group before I even got finished with my first lap (which means they did two laps in the time it took me to almost finish one).

At that point, I abandoned on my own, and did not race in the criterium stage the next day.

So. What have I discovered?

First: even casual racing is WAY out of my league as a road race cyclist, at least competitively. I have absolutely no hope to compete even in the lowest category of racing right now.

And, that's kind of the key.

Right now.

What A Race Against Time and the Tucson Bicycle Classic taught me is that if I want to even consider being a road racer, even at the lowest levels, I have got to do a LOT more riding, I have to be smarter about how, what, and when I eat, and I have to lose quite a lot of weight. Until my first race, I had been kinda chugging along, getting in some good easy rides to attempt to acclimate to the bike, and riding, and I thought I was doing pretty well. I didn't expect to win, nor even to place, but thought that I'd be okay along the bottom part of the group. Maybe not the worst, but definitely behind most of the pack. Now I realize that even if I want to finish in last place RESPECTABLY I am going to have to get on my bike five or six days out of every nine (nine due to the shift cycle that I work). Basically, every single day that I am not on shift, with occasional exceptions, I need to be getting in at least an hour to ninety minutes of riding, and that during my four-day off cycle, I should probably be doing two- to three-hour rides, in my HR zone 2, three of those four.

I learned one thing, primarily: if I want to race and not feel completely like an idiot, I have to get a lot more work done.

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