Race Reports

Grant's Tomb 2019 - W4/5 - Connie

Since joining the team, I’ve been apprehensive about fully committing to racing. I love riding, and love riding fast, but to be honest, I wasn’t sure I’d be confident enough to race. I have found myself when riding with new riders on group rides, I often lag off the back as I don’t trust their wheel. So I wasn’t sure I’d be cut out for racing. Joining the team, cutting down on my running and investing more time and energy etc. in preparation to ride my first race, I have been so worried “what if I can’t race?”

But after my first race, this race, I’d know if it was for me. I had built it up in my mind and I was scared shitless that I wasn’t going to be able to do it, to be honest. I couldn’t talk about it or even read the emails, without feeling panicked. With several restless nights that week, Friday arrived and after chatting with Diane, I gave myself a talking to. I sat and watched the TBD videos to get a feel for the turns and tried to look at the line taken by previous riders entering and leaving each turn. There were too many unknowns for me to really devise a race plan, so I told myself.... “you love riding bikes, remember that. Just try and have fun.”

I got a good 4 mile warm up in from Central Park to Grants. Standing in line at number pickup, I got chatting to a few other girls who were riding in my race and they seemed equally as nervous. We all shared words of encouragement which actually made the whole race seem less daunting. 

I didnt even think about starting position until I was already there, but once I pulled up beside Diane and Dana I realized that this is something I should have thought about before just rocking up ( note to self for future races). Luckily It was a small field, so we were fine, and we were positioned to the right side of the pack, which gave us some space to move up the right side of the field once we started.

I was ready for the Go and I started strong. I was on autopilot for the first half lap, revaluating each move. But It didn’t feel smooth from the start. I stayed at the back of the pack for the first 2 laps or so, trying to find one of these “multiple pace lines” that I’d heard so much about. Lots of surging at the back, lots of breaking then going crazy fast at impromptu moments. So, I tried to move up. Into lap 3 or 4  heading up the hill toward the finish line, the pack seemed to slow, so after seeing Dana push up I decided to follow by taking the right side ( avoiding the inside as I didn’t want to get trapped in any corners). Taking the right side, left me exposed, and I was getting zero draft. So I tried to manoeuvre myself into the group. Even in the middle of the pack when I thought I had a line, the riders moved up and back and I inturn would find myself at the edge ( is this what always happens? I’d love to know). 

The constant surging and movement while in the pack felt like..... like climbing steps but the top step keeps falling out from under you. There was no way to hold a spot. I really wasn’t expecting this movement. It was tough, I just kept finding myself at the edge of the pack with zero draft or at the back surging and breaking.

By the 6th or 7th lap I was struggling with not finding a comfortable position. I was still on the back of the group or the right hand side of it. But now, as I was feeling more confident on the corners, when I came out if the hairpin turn with good momentum, and I knew the pack would slow again going up the hill, I took the opportunity to move right up the field.  I kinda decided to just, fuck it...  go for the lead. No one fought me for it, and it felt good. I didn’t have to battle for position and I didn’t have to worry about anyone breaking in front of me for the first time throughout the race. It was just me.  Hitting each of the turns with no one in front was pure joy. I even let out a “Whhhoooop” at the top of the hill at 122nd. It was so so much fun. I distinctly remember Kevin shouting at me to pull back. I fell back and I was then back in the scramble for a draft.  Then the lead riders on those last 3 to 4 laps  picked up the pace. The feild started to string out considerably. On the 2nd last lap right after the finish line we took the turn and the rider in front clipped her front wheel with the rider in front of her, she stayed upright after a wobble but by then I’d breaked and slowed. I breaked and then slowed right down into the cathedral turn and that was it. They were gone. I could see the lead group taking the left turn onto 122nd as I was only coming around the other and I struggled so hard to get back. I pushed hard to catch a wheel going up the hill, and lost it at the crest. I nearly made it to the rider ahead as we hit the hairpin again, but I wasn’t catching up. I kept my head down. I lost my legs and my determination  as I came into the hairpin on the last lap. No more energy to make a last push. I was glad the finish line was at the top of the hill. Lesson learned.

What I take from it?

  • I have a hell of a lot to learn and a hell of a lot more training to do to.

  • I need to be more confident in the group and maybe hold my position better.

  • I need to pace myself and avoid having zero energy for the last laps.  

  • I loved being at the front. Ha!

  • I need more experience. 

  • I need more experience.

  • I loved the course and taking tight corners.

  • And I’m happy to say I love racing bikes.

I can’t believe I have to wait another year before I can ride that course again!

Kevin Hsieh