TLE party, I went watch my first crit race. the Westlake Training Series Race. It looked fun and ever since I have wanted to try it. Yet there are some crashes and I was a little intimidated to give it my first go. I fancy my bike handling skills to be pretty decent between all my road riding, Rays MTB and a lot of mountain biking but the cornering, pack racing, accelerations and breaks were a little new so I was not sure exactly what to expect.
I was very happy fellow TLE teamie, Gwen took me under her wing to ride the warm-up of 2 loops with me going over the course and giving me some tips. The course is a completely flat 2 mile loop, located primarily in a suburban office park. The B race for this week was set to be 17 loops or 34 miles. I was super excited but a little nervous. It was a neutral start meaning we all rode 1 loop easy and when we crossed the start, it was on. I sat back in the middle for the first 1/3 of the race, watching lines, watching cornering and trying to get it all figured out. OMIGOSH was this fun. There is such an art to this race and making sure you are where you need to be when the breaks happen and watching lines as not to get boxed out. I learned about protecting my front wheel.
There were cards flipped on various laps for points, cash, or merchandise primes. However pretty much I was just trying to sort it all out...moving over when the A group flew by, trying to be cognizant of picking up the race ettiquete, not wanting to tick anyone off and so on! I went out hard a couple times and was not having any issues sticking with the main group...heck I was really just enjoying it. For an hour and a half, I was not stressed about anything and was just enjoying the moment. The laps were just flying by. One time I did lean into a corner hard and I caught a whole lot of a black tar snake which sent my rear end sliding a bit so I did make a mental note to be more careful there but other than that, I was feeling quite comfortable. There are tons of fast acceleration intervals but there are tons of opportunities where the pace slows and I thought it was not too hard to stay well within my comfort zone. I was one of four ladies in the race and 3 of us were all on the same team so that was comforting. As we rounded the final corner, I pedaled out and sprinted towards the finish. OH SUCH FUN STUFF! Then we rode one final cool down lap. I hit stop on the Garmin after my cool down lap which we rode easy and was shocked to see an average speed of 24.0 for the 36 miles! Guess the draft helps!!!
I can not get this race out of my head as this way so up my alley. I think it plays into my sense of adventure personality. Now I am pondering my normal weekly riding schedule...usually Tuesdays are my 33 mile hilly ride with the touring club but I think I need to do this again next week....and maybe every other week or something! LOVED IT and think I may have to try out some more bike racing! Plus it would be nice to support the other TLE teammates!