Whoops… I said I was taking it easy and I just signed up for a bicycle race this weekend: the Texas Gran Fondo. Any other Texas cyclists out there doing this one? I’ve been eyeing it, and I’m super excited to ride on Sunday.
Now to be clear, this is a USAC sanctioned event, but it’s not your typical bike race with various CATs and peletons. It’s 94 miles, so for me, there’s no worry about “staying with the pack”, “bridging the gap”, etc. I can ride this as my own race, and I’ll have to ride it as my own race to finish – though I am still trying to recruit a few friends to ride with me. I wasn’t going to do it, but David encouraged me, so what the heck. He’ll be kiting that day of course.
I haven’t participated in a legit bike race for some time – a Criterium or road race that is. I did a couple bike races years ago and they were fun, albeit very stressful and my heart rate was sky high the entire time just trying to keep up with the other girls. That’s how I see the difference between most bike races & running or triathlon events – in runs and triathlons you run your own race with your own strategy. Cycling races, in contrast, are very dependent on the peleton or pack of riders because of the huge benefit drafting provides. In the beginning of a road race, there are often sprints to drop the group and make a gap from the slower riders. That’s because if the riders finish at the same time, then it’s just a sprint to the finish – endurance gals like myself who don’t sprint need to get away at the beginning so they aren’t in a sprinting race at the end. Often a small pack gets away and rotates, drafting together. And if you don’t stay with the pack you get “dropped” and have to pull yourself (i.e. no draft), giving yourself a much harder race. Bottom line is that there are a lot of scenarios. I’m still a little scared and don’t feel my bike training is up enough to do a Crit or road race anytime soon, but the Gran Fondo will be more of a long training ride anyway, and with much less elevation than last weekend – easy right?
A few pictures from the Houston Grand Crit – I think this was an hour of ~1 mile loops near downtown Houston.
And spent (picture taken right after the finishing sprint).
The all smiles… very happy to have stayed with the pack.
Running & triathlon events are hard in their own way because the the race is mental – you against you. It’s easy to go out too fast or to want to give up without a pack to hold on to. Of course, you can always chase a person or pace group down, but there’s no draft advantage as in biking (apart from drafting on the swim in triathlons). Plus, you can easily “blow up” in a triathlon when chasing someone else and not pacing yourself properly and following your own strategy.
So which type of race do you like better, chasing someone else or pushing yourself? I find I stress a lot more over cycling races where I know I have to chase the competition. I never want to be left behind.
Random Friday thought: I loved bungee jumping and being dropped through canyons, but I’m still glad this isn’t my job… Can you see the little specs? Saw them out the office window today, sheesh. Have a great weekend!