A few Wednesdays ago I went out to the second night (my first) of the Memorial Park Crit series in downtown Houston. I left work late, ate too much at lunch, couldn't find the registration table or race area, and didn't have time to warm up. Taking all that into consideration, I think I did alright. I hung on to a group with a few other W4's and a bunch of Men (maybe 8-10 of us total). The category was 4/5 (mixed M/W). At the end, 2 of the W4's on GCCA blocked me out for the sprint finish. Oh well, that's what they're supposed to do.
Then on Saturday, June 17, I raced with Team SpinCycle at the velodrome. The Saturday Night Races are much more relaxed than the Friday ones, but challenging as well. They're mostly sprints (which I didn't do), and a few scratch and points races. I raced in the Senior 4/5 Category. I earned a few points for the team in 2 separate races, and even came in 4th in the last race. I think by the time the 3rd (last) race came around, I'd figured out where I needed to be in the pack, and learned whose wheel to follow. My teammates gave me some good drafts and breaks, and it turned out alright. All in all, my first experience on a team was pretty positive. Plus another team attempted to recruit me (Team Tilson Homes). They're trying to increase their female membership, so I'm apparently a hot commodity. : p
Yesterday I raced the Memorial Park Crit again. This time I left work early enough to get there, register, and warm up for a decent amount of time. I stayed with the lead group for about a lap and a half, when I started to freak out with all the people around me on the corners. Now, don't get me wrong, this isn't a very techinical course. There are corners and such, but the roadway is nice, no gravel, no big potholes, no manhole covers...just corners. So anyways, I got nervous, backed off on my pace, and lost the pack. I tried to catch back on, but couldn't, and spent the rest of the race until the last 3 laps all by myself. Literally. I would look as far ahead of me and as bar behind me as I possibly could, and would see NO ONE. And this is only a 1.1-mile course. When I finally caught glimpse of a guy ahead of me who'd fallen off the back of the pack, I set myself an intermediate goal of catching him. But a half-lap later, I noticed the pack gaining on me, and lost my guy. Well, I got lapped about 3 times by the pack. The second time I got lapped, I tried to catch back on, was doing great, and then heard a big POP! sound. The guy next to me looked at my bike and yelled, "FLAT!" so I pulled off, got off my bike...and realized I DIDN'T have a flat. Boy, was I frustrated. Well, now I know not to listen to other people during a race. So then I got back on my bike, with a little less enthusiasm now, and kept going. Three laps from the finish, I was able to catch and draft off a SWCC rider, but the finish was very anticlimactic. Mike came to watch, and, when prompted, admitted it wasn't one of my better races. It was all very strange, though, because I was all alone. Later, Mike told me there were a few people behind me, and obviously at least that one guy ahead of me, aside from the lead pack, but I had no one to work with, and was all by myself for basically the whole race. It made the race seem pretty pointless, since part of my purpose in doing these crits is to practice pack riding in technical situations. Afterwards, I talked to Rod (a Cat4 who got 2nd) and Mark (from Tilson who must be a Cat2), and they both told me I have the fitness, I just need to work on my nerves and trusting my bike and stuff... I guess that's encouraging.
Sorry it's been so long since I've posted. Life has just been too busy! This weekend, I'm headed to the Cape (Canaveral, that is) for the Space Shuttle launch. Next week I might race Memorial Park again if I'm back from Florida in time. The State Road Race Champs (north of Austin) got postponed because they were intended to be held on a military base, but the troops there got activated so we weren't allowed on. State TT Champs in Patterson (west of Houston) are in a few weeks - only my second TT ever, so should be interesting. I'll let y'all know how it goes!