First Time Road Racing in … A Long Time
It’s been a week since I’ve been back from the Killington Stage Race with my BikeReg/Shared Coffee teammates in Vermont. The race marked my first time back in a road race since at least seven years ago, and it was a bit of a culture shock for someone who’s been mostly jumping into triathlons and off-road events in recent years! I was ridiculously nervous heading in, because I had no idea where I would stack up on my team or in the peloton. I knew I was fit: I’m arguably in the best shape I’ve ever been in, but how would that translate to road racing, where tactics and quick hits of strength are key?
I wouldn’t say that the weekend went amazing for me—but I will say that I managed to not embarrass myself or my teammates throughout the three stages! I made a few attempts at leading out sprints for Christin, I finished in the top 10 every day and 9th overall, and I was pretty psyched with my time trial performance on the last day, especially considering my complete lack of TT gear. Was it the best I could have done? No—I know I needed more hill repeats, and probably would have been smart to jump into a local crit or two to sharpen my sprinting power. But between work and weather, I just haven’t had the time to get out and ride the way that I would like… And that was OK.
At the end of the day, it wasn’t about the individual results: It was about spending time working and hanging with four amazing women who I’m lucky enough to call friends. Such a group of badass ladies! (Also, I never realized how fun hanging out for a weekend of racing could be, but it turned into a total adult slumber party that I absolutely adored.)
I’ve never been that good at making friends with women, so to be part of a team packed with them has been a great experience for me. When I was driving to the race, I was a little terrified. Felt a little like the first day at a new school, even though I’ve hung out with these women before! (Umm, can you see why I started the Shred Girls series?!) But as soon as everyone arrived and we were hanging out, I settled into it and found myself not wanting the weekend to end.
So, a HUGE thanks to these women, and their various partners who showed up to help out and support us throughout the weekend. I’m so stoked to head down later this month for New England’s Crit Week—I won’t be able to race much more for the rest of the season due to a bunch of other work/clinic/travel commitments, but I can’t wait to spend more time with these rockstars!
New to road racing and totally freaking out? A couple of tips:
- Get your bike looked over. I saw a few water bottle cages almost falling off, and saw a few tubeless setups gone wrong. $50 will usually get you a solid look-over from a local shop, or get a total overhaul if it’s been a while, getting everything re-cabled and gone through closely. Worth the $$.
- Have an easy breakfast plan. I knew I was sharing space with a lot of people, so instead of my normal oatmeal or eggs/rice type meal, I went with cold cereal and protein powder with my almond milk. Not fancy, but it got the job done.
- If you’re unsure about how you’ll be able to eat during the race, I highly recommend putting calories in your bottle instead. I don’t normally do this—I prefer to drink electrolytes, eat calories, but if you’re nervous in a group, calories in your drink can be a lifesaver. (I used Tailwind this weekend, but for normal riding and individual races, I always use nuun!)
- Focus on riding smooth. People in the peloton really, really hate squirelly riders. Don’t freak if you’re not in the position you want to be, and don’t dart from side to side. Just try to pedal as smoothly as possible and steadily move up through the pack.
- Don’t be the guy who screams at everyone. If you think everyone around you is acting like an idiot, odds are pretty good that you’re the one acting like an idiot.
- Power is great, but don’t neglect heart rate. I didn’t have power for this race (my powermeter broke at the last minute) so I actually only could go on heart rate for the time trial, and I think it was one of the best efforts I’ve ever done. Power is an awesome metric to have, but if you focus on holding, say 250 watts, but you neglect the fact that your heart rate has skyrocketed in the attempt, you’re going to blow up. Power isn’t created in a vacuum!
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