I managed to get a few drops of liquid out of my frozen water bottle as I warmed up on the trainer. Someone pinned on my number as I spun there, nervous about my first race and hoping I wouldn't freeze.
I came pretty close. It wasn't unitl five laps to go that I could feel the fingers on my left hand. Most of the race, I couldn't tell if I was shifting up or down: my fingers were too numb to feel the levers. I got dropped by the field, and rode most of the race alone, behind the pack. They lapped me on their last lap.
It's been a while since I've been in this kind of spot. I could hang with the fast guys in high school swimming last year and the year before. It's been a while since I've been lapped. But of course, I haven't been training as much as I was for swimming. With intramurals and training sessions here, it's hard to find the time - and the energy - for a ride.
We raced two crits this weekend: distinctly American bike races with a lot of turns and a lot of action. While French fans are willing to watch the start of an 80-mile race, drive to the midpoint, watch the pack fly by, and then watch the finish, Americans would prefer to stay in one spot and watch the race go around. Thus, the crit: a short, 1-3 mile course with a lot of turns and a lot of laps. Men's C riders race for thirty minutes. When the judges determine there are five laps to go, riders stop worrying about how much time is left and start thinking about how many laps are left.
I learned quite a bit this weekend: go hard at the front and stay there. Don't get stuck in the back of the pack - it gets too strung out in the corners and you waist too much energy trying to catch back up. Go like mad, and hang in there.
Sunday's crit went better, but I wound up in the wrong gear on the hill and couldn't keep up - dropped again. I tried working with a Colorado College guy, but I dropped him and couldn't wait. The picture above is from Sunday, with somebody sucking my wheel, using my draft. Of course, I would have done the same thing.
But, as one of our A riders said - in fact, the one in the picture below - we spend forty minutes racing and four hours chillin' with the team. I talked to Major a lot in the van headed up to Ft. Collins. He's done a couple mission trips, in and out of the Air Force, giving essential vitamins to malnourished kids in Honduras and other places. I asked him what kind of opportunities the AF has for humanitarian work - he said the most opportunites come to doctors, especially in pediatrics. So I could go to med school after graduation and become a doctor... I could even study Mechanical Engineering as an undergrad here. Hopefully I'll have time to train and race Men's A my senior year.