Date: 31 March 2012

Location: South Beloit, IL

With a couple weeks of great weather, Molly and I have been back on our bikes. The weather hasn’t been as good after those two weeks of feeling like summer, but we’ve been trying to keep building our cycling fitness. With that, we are looking at doing races on the weekends. This week we had the opportunity to go somewhere new and race at the Blackhawk Farms Raceway in South Beloit. Friday night we checked weather.com and found out the weather was supposed to be sunny with temps at 53-60 degrees. We were excited because it has been rather cold this week. The drive was about two hours, so we were committed by the time we got there, even though we were surprised to find out it was freezing! Technically 33 degrees is not freezing, but it sure felt like it.

Molly did the second race of the day, women’s category 4. She finished with the pack, 9th of 16. The course was a 1.7 mile loop with several turns. I didn’t get to talk to Molly to find out any details of the course because my first race was next.

I raced in the category 4/5 race. It was a decent field of 72. I was surprised at how squirrely the race was. I kept hearing brakes squeaking and could even smell them burning. There was one point on the course that was a pinch point and several of us rode through the grass to avoid getting hit. Amazingly there weren’t any crashes. The speed wasn’t especially quick, and I probably could have won a prime when I was positioned well near the front but was saving it for the finish. Unfortunately I just could get the position I wanted for the finish, and ended up 45th overall, 26/34 cat 4s.

I was planning on only doing one other race, the Masters 30+ 4/5. It was too cold to stand outside and watch the race, so I decided I might as well do the cat 4 race that was immediately before the Masters race. This one was smoother, but there were still a lot of brakes and rubber burning, and there were some young guys that weren’t riding that smooth. One rider almost went down in front of me when he was pedaling through a turn and his pedal hit the ground. He apologized to me. I didn’t really care, but I lost some of my position in trying to avoid him if he had gone down. Another rider ran onto the grass to avoid him. This race I kept pretty smooth. I kept adjusting my position near the front without getting involved in attacking or pulling. I couldn’t get a good position near the finish though and ended up with another pack finish, 42/50.

The last race was Masters 30+ 4/5. The first lap was fairly slow. I decided that I hadn’t been able to get into a good position for the sprint on the last two races, so I would try to create and get into a break. Immediately after the first lap I went for it, but when I looked at my 3 second average power was 600+ watts, which I knew I wouldn’t be able to sustain for long, and then I looked over my shoulder to see the train on me. Well, I started something, because there was a series of attacks. No breaks lasted long. In fact, I didn’t see any races that were won by a break. It was a fun race though it was much faster and much smoother than the previous two. My fastest lap of the day was the final lap of my third race, averaging 27.0 mph. I felt good, and I thought I was in a fairly good position. The finish was ¼ mile away following the last turn, and the next thing I knew was a swarm of riders flying by me. I quickly changed positions from the top 10 to 39/50 overall, 24/28 cat 4.

It was a blast, but I obviously have a lot more to learn about bike racing, specifically sprinting.

See full race results here.

See GPS files on Strava here: 4/5, 4, 30+ 4/5.

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