I did Bulldog bike race this past weekend up at Camp Pendelton and it was quite the experience I might say. I've never done a bike race before so my only reference of bike racing is something like tour de france. So when my coach
suggested this race to many of his clients my internal response was: hell no. I did not verbalize how I felt about this race and quite frankly I was having an internal drama over it mainly because I do like to challenge myself with things I won't do at first glance. So I was having a lot of back and forth on my own personal excuses of why I didn't want to do this race and why I should just shut up challenge myself and sign up for the race.
Then my roadie friend Elaine got into the mix: SIGN UP FOR BULLDOG....ugh...i was quickly running out of excuses. It was her first road race too and she had talked our friend Mark into racing also (although he's a seasoned crit racer so the whole bike racing isn't new to him). So now it went from sounding terrifying to sounding still terrifying but at least with friends. I can do terrifying much better when I have company for some reason.
I can hear it now: But you ride the track...bla...bla...bla. Yes, riding the track has gotten me much more comfortable with pace lines, and riding in close quarters with other people, but overall I'd much prefer people keep their bike and their distance from me. Seriously, the kinds of crazy people they let ride bikes in the country....sheesh.
I showed up pretty early, but still got crappy parking for some reason. Managed to check in and meet up with my friends Elaine and Mark and headed to my car when I finally connected with my coach about the race. I chatted with him and one of his other clients about the race and basically what I was told from them and other people was: the first 8 miles are a hammer fest, hang where you can, then there is a hill where the pack will fall to pieces and then try to find people to work with on the way back in. I took some mental notes and then headed back to my car to grab my trainer.
Now...i had a ton of time before my wave took off since my wave was last, and I wanted some company...so yes...I dragged my trainer 2blocks down the road so I could warm up with Elaine and Mark. I think I did it more for moral support. The guy in the car parked next to mine sorta shook his head at me...but I needed more moral support at that point I knew it would be 'worth' it to me.
Mark and Elaine had 5 rules of racing: Don't crash, hang to the front, make it hurt, have fun and win. Although it ok to be a bit of a rebel and break rule 5...but try not to break the other rules.
Elaine and I lined up AT.THE.FRONT. Ok...i knew this was the right thing to do...but i started to second guess myself too. I knew to not be the lead person, but rather find a wheel and sit on it and being at the front of the pack is a little safer in general because there isn't the crazy accordion-like action happening with people hitting their brakes like in the rest of the pack.
It's a rolling start and we take off. Once we are give the thumbs up the race is on...but weirdly...there is no 'hammerfest'. I keep waiting for it to happen, but seriously...we are totally lollygagging and really only going around 20mph which for a pack of cyclist is not that fast. The other women are chit chatting like it is a liesurely saturday ride and while I got a little annoyed and wanted us to go faster I knew I had to just go with the flow. That's a sucky thing about riding in a pack, if you don't want to pull at the very front there is little control over the speed.
We hit the hill and the pack falls apart...i totally get dropped...and sadly on the way back there is no one from my wave I can pick out to work with. Every person I came upon was a guy so they were from a wave before me and not going a speed i wanted. I thought for a moment this other woman might want to work with me on the way back, but we hit the final hill and I dropped her pretty soundly at that point. So I just had to tell myself: well...i'm a triathlete I'm used to not drafting...but it did kinda suck, I mean I actually got to draft I might as well take advantage of it...right?
Overall I surprised myself and really enjoyed the race. This is why I try to push myself to do new things, I tend to surprise myself even when things seem like I won't like them...i sometimes end up liking them....I think it is good in general to push internal boundaries and mental walls because with each wall I knock down I learn a little bit more about myself.
Next up... Big training weekend this weekend and first triathlon of the season! Should be lots of fun!