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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I posted about the Men's Racing Clinic in Central Park a few days ago. I thought I'd give a race report, it being my first race and all.

The Men's Race Clinic is put on by the good folks at CRCA. Race sign-in from 5am, 30-min Q&A session from 5:45. Three laps around Central Park. For those of you who don't know the area, the course is a 6.1 mile loop around Central Park; it's closed to all car traffic before 7am in the mornings, (thus the early start time). The course isn't that hilly (supposedly); the steepest hill, called 'The Hill', is at the North end of the park (and is thus sometimes called 'Harlem Hill'). For us beginners it's a scary hill - but it's only 0.32 miles long, with a rise of only 84' - which means a 4.4% average grade. In other words - for real cyclists it's basically a pimple ;)

Bad news first - I didn't win. In fact, not even close - I got dropped on the second lap going up the Hill at the north end of the park. I ended up near the back, a couple of minutes behind the main pack. The good news is that me knee didn't give me much trouble - I hurt it playing hockey the night before when a very very big guy fell on it on a play near our net - it was very painful to walk on for a few hours. I iced it down when I got home, and slept with an ice pack on it, and when I woke up this morning it was sore, but ok - I could put weight on it ok and flexing it wasn't a problem. The knee did tighten up a bit later in the race - but that could have just been me cramping up ;)

Anyway, impressions: boy, the starting kick is impressive. Everyone's adrenaline is really flowing. It was a rolling start at the start of lap two. Right off the bat about eight guys made a massive jump - I thought about trying to join them, then realized that there was no way they'd keep that pace up the whole race and settled back in behind the wheel in front of me. Sure enough, about half way around the lap, just before we hit the Hill, the pack caught them.

For those of you who've never ridden in a group only one word can accurately describe the peloton: Terrifying. You're going 25-30mph, literally rubbing shoulders, inches from the wheel in front of you. If one person goes down, he basically takes out 30 guys, and at that speed and clipless pedals, any sort of crash almost always means broken bones. The fear factor is very, very real - and it's one reason I think I cracked on the second lap; I was trying to get towards the front (away from the more squirrely riders near the back) and instead of trying to move up from the middle of the pack I rode along the side, outside the group. I ended up working a lot harder just to stay with the group. Bad strategy.

There were actually two crashes. Thankfully neither of them were too serious, but it was a good reminder that the risk of crashing is very real. I was involved in the second one (on the third lap) - actually at the very tail end, when a guy avoiding the main crash swerved right, hit a rut in the road and swerved back into me. I was almost able to avoid hitting him, but we both went down, and the handlebars rammed into my chest. I now have a nasy three inch roadrash across my just chest - it's nasty to look at and painful to the touch, but otherwise no big deal, both of us were able to jump back on our bikes, really none the worse for wear.

Second lap, I felt pretty good, but like I noted above, I spent too much of the lap outside the peloton. By the time we got to the Hill the second time, I was having a seriously hard time staying in contact, and lost the main group between the Hill and the second small hill that follows.

A small group of about 4 of us were together for a bit. We dropped one on the other small incline towards the end of the second lap, while another guy seemed to get his second wind and took off right after the start of the third lap; I didn't see him again until after the race. There were a number of guys behind us, and I asked the other guy still with me if he wanted to let them catch up, but he said we should just push on, so we did. We traded pulls until we came to the Hill the third time, by which time I had recovered a bit. I felt better the final time up than the previous time, interestingly enough, so I sprinted up to the top of the hill, dropping him in the process. I ended up finishing about a minute or so in front of him.

I finished the three laps (18.4 miles) in just under an hour (0:59:17), which is a personal best for me by over 17 minutes (!!).

Using data from my Polar Power/HRM system and cyclingpeaks software, my data for the race according to Andy Coggan's power profiler table put my 5min and 20min output (w/kg) at 'Moderate 2' and 'Fair 1' - quite an upgrade from the 'Untrained 3' and Untrained 4' ratings from my indoor Computrainer tests. I'm guessing this has more to do with polar power unit than anything; this was a beginner's rate; if I'm Moderate what are the guys that won?

After the race the good guys from CRCA had a long Q&A session, covering safety, race tactics, etc. The winners got some nice prices (new $180 helmet, jerseys, socks, gloves, etc.) and everyone got a new water bottle. So goods, coaching, and a race, all for $10! Great deal. All in all it was a great introduction to the world of cycling and racing; I for one know I'll be back before the season is out.
 

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Congrads! It sounds like you had fun, learned a lot and found the sport of cycle racing(as a participant, not just a spectator). Many never do find out how involved it is to race and many quickly throw up their hands in surrender when they take their first 'drubbing' by more experienced racers or whatever.
A couple of things to keep in mind: When you 'start' a race, there are "X-number" of other entered too. Riders who're all trying just as hard as you, or harder, to win that event. But of course, only one can win, so, statistically, it will never be easy to beat all the others. Everyone who (realistically) enters into a race HAS trained..trained as hard as they think they need to or can, they've worked like dogs trying to maximize their chances to finish well..Not many first time racers realize the level of the competition they'll be encountering, but after that first race..you know! Now, now that you are no longer a first time rookie, and now that you know, somewhat, what to expect from the other riders, you'll need to accept the fact that you'll have a challenge (ongoing) to improve your whole race package in order finish near the front..Enjoy!
Don Hanson
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks Gnarly (I can only assume you're from S. Cal?) - it was mentioned in one of my earlier threads about how cycling is different from almost every other sport in that you can't fake it - hockey or tennis (which I also do), you can 'take off' a play or two here or there. Or you can not put in the full committed effort and still compete. Might not win, of course, but you'll still be in the play. But as one poster noted, 'The difference between cycling and other sports is that there is little faking the extraordinary demands of cycling. If you get dropped, you get dropped'.

I found out how true that was today.
 

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Congrats

I definately can relate to what you said about truly understanding that the competition are as serious as you are if not more so after one's first race. I got dropped at mine, but I feel alot better about how my second race will be, rather than with my first race, I was nervous the week before, and felt really elated the day before, halfheartedly expecting to wipe the competition, and the other half expecting to get destroyed. Getting dropped in a first race will be a good thing though, as it only allows you to move up. Congrats on making the jump into things, that is what relieved me the most, I was happy despite performing below my expectations by the knowledge that I can now set accurate expectations.
Matt
 
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