Good Friday Road Race Report
Lessons Learned from the Good Friday Road Race
This past Friday (April 3), I headed down to Ancaster, Ontario to participate in what would be my first road race and the first Ontario Cup of the season, the Good Friday Road Race. Full of nerves and excitement I was looking forward to this event as an opportunity to learn and test my fitness.
After a couple days to reflect, I think I can share what I learned from the Good Friday Road Race. But first, I should tell you what happened.
When I woke up Friday morning, I was very nervous. Like ridiculously nervous. So nervous I was shaking. That was then followed by a poor breakfast selection of Rice Krispies. But that is what happens when you are not at home. At least the weather was looking good, a little foggy but not too cool so I jumped in the car and head to the Ancaster Fair Grounds to start my racing career at the Good Friday Road Race.
Everything went smoothly. I registered, pinned my number on, got dressed, got my trusty Foil ready and headed for the starting line. But that’s where the problems started happening.
The Elite 4 Men (my category) were scheduled to start at 8:30. I got there with time to spare and joined the crowd on the line. The Master 3 Men were scheduled to start 5 minutes after us, and with all their experience they knew to start at the front to get a good position in the peloton, so they crowded up to the line right behind the E4s. I thought I was in a nice spot at the back of my category and was ready to go.
But then the speaker yelled “GO,” and no one in front of me moved. My category was heading off down the road but I was mixed in with the Masters! I pushed my way to the front, with little assistance, and got going with the group up ahead almost out of the fair grounds. Luckily I wasn’t the only person lined up in the wrong spot.
The next 30 minutes were spent chasing as hard as I could, going deep into the red in what was now a 15km time trial rather than a mass start road race. And after completing 1 of the 4 scheduled laps, I called it quits because I saw no point in a very discouraging solo ride for the next hour and a half, or until I got pulled from the course.
Luckily I did not have high hopes for my performance at the Good Friday Road Race. It was my first race, therefore I hoped to use it as a learning experience. When judged on that standard, it was a success. So here are some lessons I learned from the Good Friday Road Race.
1. Make sure you are in the right spot. Sounds simple, but apparently it is not. Just ask the people around you if you are in the right spot. They aren’t going to bite your head off. I think. I didn’t check, clearly. So next time, I am going to push my way closer to the front. Although I might think I want to ride at the back of the peloton, I start at the front I will for sure be in the right category.
2. Finish the chase before you think its done. When trying to chase back on to the peloton after my terrible start, there was a couple times that I thought I had made it. Once was when the group slowed due to a crash. Perfect! But then I started to slow down to match their speed just as they sped back up and I was dropped again. This also works for when the peloton is catching a breakaway. The catch is only made once you (or they) are fully absorbed into the swarming mass of the peloton.
3. HTFU! When I made my decision to stop racing, I was content with my decision. What was the point of struggling for three more laps by myself. But as I watched the end of the early races and watched many riders fight in out despite being dropped I grew disappointed with myself. Whats the point of keeping going? Showing some dedication and commitment and getting a workout in. I need to harden up a bit and prove that I have the dedication and commitment to be a bike racer.
To look at things more positively, my goal for the Good Friday Road Race was to have a good learning experience, and as one of my co-workers said, at least I got the shit show out of the way. Also, my fitness felt pretty good.
Everyone starts somewhere and now the only way to go is up. The Twitter response has also been really great, so thanks for that.
Next up is the Springbank Road Race on May 3 in London. I have a month to work on my fitness, group riding skills, and to man up. A month is plenty of time so I will be ready.