Report by Phil. Pictures and captions by Lauren.
Last year I raced two triathlons, the Culpepper Sprint and the Nations Triathlon. Overall I was happy with my results. After viewing the results I completed some shallow analysis of my results from the Nations Triathlon:
175/2853 Overall Division
Compared to the rest of the field I was the worst at the bicycle portion. Based on this I decided to join a cycling team to become more educated and improve! I decided to join the National Capitol Velo Club, with the main factor being that my climbing partner, Karl, was already a member. NCVC has been great! They host something called Cabrucer clinics for all the new members. These clinics focus on developing race and riding skills. I unfortunately missed all of these except one due to illness and travel! Fortunately Karl and other team members assisted in developing my skills and answering any and all questions.
After months of training in the cold weather with NCVC I competed in my first race in the Delaware Training Series this past Saturday. I was excited and very apprehensive leading up to the first race. I am a category 5 rider. This is the beginner class for cycling races; essentially anyone could compete in this category. Grandma would just need a USA cycling membership, a huffy, and a helmet to jump right on in. Everyone in the cycling world says you want to get out of Cat5 ASAP and move to Cat4 due to the abundance of novice cyclists and the increased risk of crashes due to such diversity in skills, abilities, and experiences.
Overall, I was worried I would either be left in the dust, crash, or just completely screw up. I am not usually vocal about my insecurities for races, but I was legitimately nervous.
|Phil's nervous face|
We got to the race about an hour early. I signed my waiver and got a number. I got all suited up and started taking some warm up laps. The course was just under a mile long with three 90 degree turns. The course was shielded from wind except for a 100 yard section one turn off the start line that had a strong headwind. During warm ups a couple guys were spinning pretty fast and nearly everyone had carbon bikes with a race wheelset. I was on my stock aluminum frame Cannondale Six 5 C. I was feeling sluggish, but tried to stay positive.
I developed my strategy during the warm ups. I would stay in the pack drafting for the first 9 laps, then on the long back straight away sprint ahead so I could take the final two 90 degree corners solo to avoid being forced into a specific line by the pack.
There were rights around 20 people in the race, with half the pack consisting of individuals from two teams. I was the only NCVC rider present. The race started with a rolling start. The start was my first major concern. I was happy to hear it was a rolling start and not from a dead standstill. The group took one lap and then at the start line to the race was off! The first five laps were mainly uneventful. I was between five to six people back in the pack. One guy was leading the pack the first five laps and everyone else was getting a good draft. On lap two we passed one guy that had dropped out carrying his bicycle over one should and his front wheel in the other hand. What the hell happened?!?
|What happened on your first lap buddy?|
On lap six during the last 90 degree turn I felt contact on my right hip. I stayed calm as contact is part of cycling. I then felt my back wheel get hit a bit and heard a bike go down. I kept my cool and stayed upright. I felt bad, but I had done nothing wrong.
|just kidding :) this bike was taken off google images! Phil did not mess someone up this badly.|
On lap seven two guys attacked (which means sprinted ahead of the pack). The rest of the pack and I let them go. I decided that on lap eight I would bridge the gap on the long back section. I did exactly that without much effort and pulled a couple of guys up with me. On the last lap I was in great position. I was four people back and ready to attack. One guy attacked early and pulled ahead about 12 bike lengths. I attacked as planned on the back section and bridged the gap to around 8 lengths before the final turn. I looked back and had a huge gap between me and the rest of the field. I looked ahead and stood up for the sprint. I did not think there was any way I could bridge the huge gap, but somehow I was gaining quickly! I could tell he was tired. My legs felt like rubber, I pushed it hard, but not hard enough. I finished half a wheel behind the leader and finished my first cycling race in second place!
|photo finish! Thanks to the amazing photographer for this picture. *ahem*|
I was very excited to just be alive and not to have wrecked, but even more excited to place in the top 3!
|Phil is the tallest one, like always :)|