So there I was, sitting on the top tube of my bike in the front lines of the start to the Category 3 event at the Keith Berger Memorial Criterium in Connecticut. What was I in for? This race was my first 3s race EVER and here I am on the line for a Criterium that was going to last for less than an hour but going to cover 25 miles. I knew it was going to hurt, but how much? How fast were we going to be going? How long before I was shelled off the back with the rest of the Cat 3 newbies?
The whistle blew, the race began and all questions were left at the line. There was no more doubt, no more worrying, no more fear, just racing. The only thoughts that ran through my mind were who's wheel should I mark, who was the main guy for each team, are these guys blocking for team mates, how many laps to go till the finish and where am I in the pack.
Most of the race went by with few events that were run of the mill typical for bike racing. Breaks off the front, teams that missed out in the break chasing, and then others blocking. Then a threatening break left with members of the two well represented teams in the break. Both teams were sitting on front and the gap was growing. "I have to get to the break, that's the move and I'm not in it," I thought. I jumped out of the pack and made my way towards the lead group. No looking back, nothing in sight but the group ahead. I made it. Moving to the front I lead the group for 10 seconds then looked back to keep tabs on what was going on. The pack caught us, so I sat up and waited for someone else to work, I was a one man team anyways.
More racing ensued and in the final two laps the largest team there-Cyclonauts Racing-took charge and formed a train on the front to deliver their sprinter to the line. "I'm not sprinter, in the 4s races I wasn't a sprinter, here I'll just be blown away with no hope. I've got to jump and jump hard," I thought. So I did, 200 feet before turn 3 going into the last lap of this 4-corner 1 mile course, I sprinted as hard as I could for 15 seconds, got back into my saddle and drilled out a pace that opened a gap of about 5-10 seconds. I held a gap over the pack, and fully believe I could have held the pack off to the end, but I'm not used to hurting that much and backed off from the pain. I was caught with half a mile to go in the entire race, finished behind the field but that was probably good for 20-something-ith place.
As a side note, we averaged about 28 mph. That was a whole heaping load of fun, can't wait to do it again.