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Did my first race this last Sunday--Bearmouth RR. I didn't really know what to expect, so didn't really set any goals other than not finnishing last. The course was an out-n-back 32 mile with lots of rollers. It was a lot of fun. Got dropped on one of the rollers about 1/2 way out and ended up riding solo the rest of the race. One thing I found was that there is a big difference between fast recreational riding and racing, even at the lowest level. Quite humbling actually. Would I do it again? Absolutely! Only next time I'd like to have prepared a bit better beforehand

How was your first time? What lessons did it teach you?
 

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gastarbeiter
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a crit in danbury CT.

Got dropped on the first lap.

lesson learned: it doesn't pay to be an obsessive fan of Sean Kelly. I got rid of my toe clips, and bought a pair of clipless - like everybody else in the race had - the next day. :)
 

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Squirrel Hunter
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My First Race

So how does racing compare to those weekend touring rides? Memorial Day weekend I raced the 50k Citizens class at The Great Race in Elkhart. The morning starts out with an hour drive giving me plenty of time to waffle back and forth between confidence and apprehension.

After registering and getting my bike ready I got to watch groups of USCF racers take off every five minutes, making me question the wisdom of my choice to go racing this weekend.

Finally it was the moment of truth, rolling to the start line and listening to the official’s instructions.

Then the lead car pulled away and I was racing! Early on a few riders would drift off the front, trying to break away, only to be reeled back in by the pack. I even jumped once, only to find myself swallowed up too. Trying to ride as fast as possible to stay with the pack and watch what was going on in front of me stirred up a few butterflies in my stomach. After a few miles I finally settled into the rhythm of the pack and relaxed a bit mentally and physically. I even managed to drink both of my bottles and eat a Gu while flying along the road in the middle of the pack.

I found my spot eight to ten riders back. This was close enough to the front to keep an eye out for any successful breakaways and also to avoid trouble further back where some of the riders with poor handling skills were riding. I followed the advice from some of the 3RVS racers, never work without a reason.

With this in mind I avoided moving to the front to take my pull, opting to let others do the work, while I hung out eight to ten riders back. The other advice I received was to relax, which is hard to do riding four abreast at 25mph plus, especially when you occasionally bumped into another rider. A couple of times I heard the sounds of metal as someone farther back in the pack would rub a wheel, then panic and go down.


As the pack approached the end there was still a large group together. My legs were feeling pretty good, but I soon got an education about the mental side of racing as teams and riders began to plot their tactics for the finish. With about a mile to go I heard three guys flipping through their gears behind me and was able to jump on their wheels as they broke away and gapped the field by 150 meters. Boy did I feel smart and strong, having anticipated the break and actually making it, but the pack was able to suck the four of us back in short order.

When the sheriff’s lead car pulled away the real tactics began as everyone began positioning themselves for the final two turns before the finish. My earlier strategy of hanging back a bit came back to haunt me as I found myself boxed in and unable to move up, even if I would have had the legs to sprint. I finished in the field, 25 feet and 15 places behind the winner. Obviously I need to spend a few Tuesday nights hanging out at the race training rides.


So how does racing compare to those weekend touring rides? Remember when you are feeling good and you sprint for that town line once in a while? Try maintaining that pace for an hour. Remember when you look at your computer after a ride and it shows an average of 20mph? Me neither, but this day my average was 24mph. Remember how you move to the front every so often to take your pull on a club ride? Don’t do it, just be a wheelsucker. Remember how much fun you have when you have a great ride? That’s what racing is like, FUN!


Steve
President’s Pace Line
3RVS Quick Release, July 2002
 

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Important lesson #1: when they blow the whistle for your wave of starts, go to the line. Do not continue to warm up until a couple minutes before you think you start. Yeah, I missed it by about 5 minutes. I took off in a futile chase, but ended a hard 32 solo miles 23rd out of a field of 50. The lead group finished about 10 minutes before me.

Even with that it was fun, and I can't wait to do another one. Very different atmosphere from MTB racing.
 

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a few years back..

a 22 mile country loop with only good descent climb at about mile 18..fast descent. pace was slow and an accident almost took me in the first mile, so I moved up front and actually drove the damn pace for the first 15 or so..getting little help from the rest of the newbies...wasn't able to scout the course but heard about the hill...had no idea...got passed by about 20-30 guys out of 50 or so on the way up...made up a little ground at the summit....bombed passed a few on the way down caught the second trailing pack and passed them all in the last 200 yards for 9th place. :)
needless to say, I would have hid in the pack had I known more about the hill..conserved a bit instead of blowing out up front.
 

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3 races total:
MTB race - total mud fest, shelled early in the first lap, finished in the top 2/3 of the field.
Cross race - 32degrees, rode my MTB, shelled early in the second lap, finished 2nd from last with a mostly flat rear tire (but I did win a Giro Pneumo in the race raffle)
Road race - took off WAY too fast, shelled in the second lap, finished 14 of 20

:)
I have some room for improvement it would seem, LOL
 

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First Race

My First Race was on the old course of the El Tour de Phoenix. Super flat and downhill, then up what was called "king Kong" by the locals (hill about 1.5 miles long and about 8-10 % grade). I was with the lead pack, made my break on the hill with two other fellows.
The gentlemen who won the race climbed the hill like Pantani on Mont Ventoux. The second rider was able to outdo me on the hill and had about a 45 second lead. I was able to chase him down and we worked together to stay away from the main group. We cautiously worked with each other until about a mile before the finish. I hit a small pot hole and heard that dreaded Hissing sound from my rear tire. Needless to say that was the end of my race. I pulled off to the side, tried changing the tire as quickly as I could and with 30 seconds 12-15 riders went passed. :mad2:
My wife had been following us with our dog in the car, and stopped to give me a lift. I sadly got in the car, the dog (who had barked at me the entire race when my wife passed me several times on the course ) saw I was completely exhausted and when i got in gave me kisses on the face. The wife kissed the other cheek, and said you gotta get better equipment. We went down the same day and I bought my first Colnago. Still own it too.
 

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1st race... Student race at UW Madison 1987, or 88 - maybe 30-40 guys in it, 15 or 20 K crit - 15 or 20 laps around the capitol. 1st place was some Trek bike worth ~$500 or so - better than the 1-2 1st place. I didn't know d#ck about d#ck for racing - a chemistry lab partner of mine (Brian something or another) had raced before & talked about how he wanted to win the bike for his GF. The pace wasn't too bad - just sat in the whole time, near Brian - got near the front on the last lap - jammed the hill (finish was on King - I understand it's moved 1 block further around now) took the last corner in 1st - sprinted like a mofo and won. I couldn't believe it - I was psyched that I almost barfed after the race.

I thought "hmmmmm, how cool would it be to do this w/ a Pro-1-2 field w/ 100+ riders some day?" So I made that happen over the next several years & managed to win ~20 races. I'll never forget the 1st one though....
 

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Shoot, most of you had nice rides for your first...

I had my dad's old 70's era Peugeot, the yellow one, with friction-shifting Simplex der's that wouldn't stay in the right gear. It was the old Bellingham 2-day race, and the first day, the road race, I showed up with my baggy shorts, a cotton t-shirt, and tennis shoes, and thought I'd smoke these old guys because at least _I_ was in shape. I think that I only had one small water bottle and I had tucked my wallet into my sock 'cuz my car was a POS with a bad door and I didn't want to leave it in there while I was out racing.

I thought that it was weird that they were just staying behind me for the first couple of miles, but that all changed when the first hill came, and they pulled around and dropped me like a brick. Someone actually said, "Thanks for the pull.", and I swear to this day I heard them laugh as they rode up the hill.

At least I passed one guy before the end so I wasn't dead last...

The second day, the crit in downtown Fairhaven, I almost thought about not showing up, but I'd already paid, right? So I'm there in my tennis shoes again, but this time there's, like, guys with two sets of wheels and a whole lot of people. The gun goes off and I'm off the back in a hurry. I thought that they didn't want to ride as a group because they didn't want to be seen near me and my shite gear! I actually think they were surprised to see me again on the second day, too.

I didn't come in dead last in the crit either, because I passed some other poor schmuck in baggy shorts before the end, but I did hear the announcer mention something about the technological advances bikes had made in the last 20 years over the PA as I rode by. It was nice to be singled out like that, I guess...

Sure, I felt like a tool, but I had a great time. I still have the picture that I bought from the freelance photographer right after the road race, and I think that I still have the paper where my name was printed as second-to-last in the Cat 5 crit.

I'd do it again if I had to...
 

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Banned forever.....or not
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Hard to remember. It involved 6 speed friction shifting, toe clips with double straps, lots of people crashing all around me, and somewhere around a mid pack finish.
 

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This is me in my second ever race - sorry, no photos exist of my first.

This one was a 25 mile TT on the outskirts of my home town in Hull, Yorkshire. I did an utterly miserable time of around 1 hour 20 mins - not helped by taking a wrong turn and not figuring it out until I was looking at the finish from behind!

The year was 1964. The bike frame - and here's a kicker for someone who eventually moved to the US - is a Witcomb "Rotrax". My grandmother bought me the frame from a LBS in Hull, though it was built somewhere 'down south' in Southern England. Afficionados of real good frames will recognise Witcomb as where one Richard Sachs learned the trade of frame building...

Wish I hadn't given it away some years after this shot, when I joined the RAF...

It was on fixed gear here - around 48 x 16, I'd guess - and the wheels were 27 x 1-1/8"pressures" - 'clinchers' to you lot over here ;). This same frame did a lot of miles, being used over the next three or so years as a fixed gear TT bike, sometimes with five gears for timetrials and with ten gears for hilly touring sessions on ocassions. It ended its career as a fixed wheel "work bike" - without a car, that was how one got to work!

Everyone started in TTs in England, they were all over the place and stinkin' cheap to enter - important in a working class sport, more so for schoolkids. I didn't even take up road racing as a junior - I was 14 when I rode this TT - and the cost of road racing was pretty steep even then.

Regards

Dereck
 

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Bike Wing Conspiracy
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1st race was in Mexico from Rosarito to Ensenada

I was a bike messenger in San Diego. The bike shop I and my friends worked out of ran a team that raced down on Mexico. The route is the same one they use for the fun ride except it was a race. I was in pretty good shape from the daily riding and I started out strong.

There is a point in the ride where the road heads inland and it is a steep hill heading in. I tackled that with ease and probably wasted too much energy. The other riders were just using me knowing this was my first race ever. On the 2nd hard climb I was leading again with everyone following me. About 2 thirds of the way up I blew up big-time. At that point everyone just rolled right past me having used me up.

I finished the ride in front of 3 other people. At least I didnt finish last.

This was on a Sanino SLX. I loved that bike. It had gears by the way.
 

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i like whiskey
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My first race was at the Superdrome in Frisco TX last July. I raced all three races for my category (Sr 4.) that night. We all rolled out, did a lap to bunch everyone up, they popped the gun and off we went. I managed to hang with the leaders for 2 laps before I started losing touch. I managed to hook on with two other guys and we completed our 25 laps points race only getting lapped three times.

In the next two races, I managed to sneak in an extra lap or two before I was lapped by the leaders. At the end of the night, I was 15th out of 20. So I considered it a success.

Highly recommended for everyone.
 

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ride-a-holic
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First ever race was a crit..

Have done a few others as well as road races, DEFINATELY prefer road races.
Anyway, was doing what I thought was good for about a lap and half. Was then quickly spit out and almost as quickly lapped. Small field of 12 so was not pulled, fast rec. riding and racing speeds are very different. Started traing more and the finishes started getting better, imagine that.
I was told by an a older guy in our club when I just strarted the racing is a very humbling experience, which is so true!!
 
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