Race Reports

Grant's Tomb 2019 - W4/5 & W3/4/5 - Diz

I don't really know what I expected going into my first crit. I knew there was a distinct possibility I would get dropped (and tried to mentally prepare for it, but how can you ever?), but I also really felt like, after months of doing pretty hard rides and training, that I could potentially fare well along a group of other cat5/newly minted racers. I know some of the women in 4 field are particularly strong, but I assumed there would be a split with two packs. I was trying to be optimistic. I'm never sure if I am too hard on myself, or overconfident, and in the end I think I just do neither very well.

My goals for yesterday out loud were "finish, try not to be last." My internal very competitive goals were different. I did not succeed at either.

1) I expected my fear of cornering would be my downfall. It was not. I did not feel any need to slow down or grab brakes on the corners, and in fact, was pretty annoyed at how much my momentum was affected by everyone else grabbing brakes. I was burning so many matches doing short 10 second sprints every 30 seconds making up for that lost momentum. It destroyed me.

2) I had a lot of trouble figuring out the right gear - especially on that kicker uphill from 122nd to keep momentum around the corner there. That was another spot I would lose position, which would then just throw me back, where I would once again be affected by the braking around the 180.

3) I swore to myself I'd get up there, and I tried to position myself a few times, but it didn't quite pan out, owing largely to the type of course/turning/braking. It definitely requires a skill set I absolutely do not have yet. At least I tried?

Reflecting on yesterday, it's hard not to feel like "well maybe I just can't hang" but I also know I have the power and fitness to do it. Though I say that and immediately doubt it. At the same time, I don't feel like I pushed my limits at all, even for the couple of laps I did stay with the pack.

Takeaways from the race are plentiful, as are the questions I have:

1) Where was my power yesterday? Was it just the constant surge/slowdown that burned every match? That's happening to everyone else too, though. It will keep happening. How do I train for it? Can I even train for it?

2) I need way more time to warm up. I knew this going into yesterday, and I think getting on the trainer before the second race helped a lot, but I can tell from any ride/run/workout that it takes me a solid 30 minutes of consistent and hard effort to feel like my muscles are really ready to work.

3) Drafting in a women's field is very very different than the draft I get off our particularly tallboi team up 9w or in the park. I knew this, but it was jarring to actually experience it.

4) No more indoors! No more ERG if indoors! There is no reason not to use post-work daylight now to ride. If I have to ride inside, no more erg.

5) GET UP FRONT. If I learned anything it's that I really need to get up there. I know how to ride a wheel, even a sketchy one, if necessary. I thought I would be very nervous about unknown wheels, but I wasn't because I trust my own handling now. I just can't get trapped behind people grabbing brakes.

Basically, everything I thought I would be bad at was fine, and everything I thought would be fine, was distinctly not fine. But now that I've had 2 days to sit with these thoughts, work out some of the character I built that day with a 6 mile run, I'm ready to try again. Central Park will be very different, and I'm actually excited to see what happens.

Kevin Hsieh