Land Park Criterium - March, 2003 (Cat 5)
Finish: 44th 

Since this was my first bike race I showed up early to see how everything went. I had spent the last week looking over the web on race reports and tips on what to do, but nothing is better than seeing everything for yoruself. Plus I had not pre-registered, so I need to make sure I would get a spot in the race since the field limit was only 50. I register and get my number and take it back to my truck and pin it on my jersey. Since I am not affiliated with a team (yet) I get to wear a plain/dull jersey. I grab my camera and head back to the race to snap some pictures and see how everything works. I snapped a few pictures of the races before mine which were both masters races. When the second masters race was about to start I watched the first lap and then headed back over to my truck. About 45 minutes left until my race and I needed to warm up. I had put my bib on before I left and put jeans and a shirt on over it. So I still needed to get changed. It was 52F outside, so I opted for leg warmers, but no arm warmers. Riding in a pack there is not as much wind so my arms do not get as cold. I put on everything and grabbed my clif bar and waterbottle. Around to the back of the truck to pull out the trainer and bike and get it setup. I hopped on the train and spun at around 90-95RPM for 25 minutes while listening to some tunes, eating and drinking some water. Then I did a 2 minute hard effort and then back to just spinning easy for another 7 or so minutes. As others started to get off there trainers so did I. I packed up and headed over to the start/finish line. As I got up there I really needed to use the restrooom, so I parked my bike and did my business. I grabbed my bike and walked back over to were everyone was waiting. I got there just in time for the final sprint in the race before mine. Not to exciting. After there race everyone headed out onto the course and did a kind of warm up lap to get around to the start/finish. Being my first race I was trying to make friends, so I pulled up next to a guy and started chatting with him. His name was Curt and ended up that he was racing in the Junior category, but was very nice. He told me he would cheer for me, and I thought that was great. I had an audience now :)

Everyone got up to the line and at least half the field there was like me and had never raced before, so I did not feel so bad. They gave the basic instructions on primes (sounded out like preems) and trying to be careful. We road a neutral lap to get a feel for the course, which was good since there were a lot of road dots (those reflector things that make noise when you change lanes in a car)on the ground. Everyone came around back to the start/finish and we were ready to go. All the primers and tips I read talked about paying attention when you clipped in and to do it fast. So I prepeared my self and made sure I was ready. The race started and kept my head up looking around to make sure I did not hit anyone and clipped in. I was happy and then noticed that everyone else was still trying to get clipped in, so the race is off to a good start now. I just sit back and find a wheel to follow. I found a guy with a Trek 5200 that looked pretty good in the beginning, so I stuck behind him. The pack was very tight, with people almost touch bars and a lot of wheel overlapping going on. I sit back and just ride for the first three laps and realize that my position is changed from front to back at least twice a lap. We come around the start/finish line and they ring the bell signifying it is a prime lap. I decided that if I wanted to be able to claim any prize on my first race it would have to be on a prime lap and early on. I start working my way through the field to try and get in position to sprint. As I go around the first turn I hear my named yelled out by Curtis, that was good motivation for me. About 500m from the finish I am up on the front leading. Not the best place to be to start a spring but I had no choice. I pick up the pace (32mph) and a couple people behind me grab my wheel and plan to use me as a lead out. I get about 150m from the line and about 6 people take off around me and I cannot keep up. That was about the point the race ended for me. I blew up and did not have a good strategy and the race was close to over for me. Of course I do not give up, I got shot out the back of the pack like a scud missle from Iraq. Never fear, I will slow up my pace and recovery and try to get back with the pack. I go into my time trail position (without the aerobars) and start cranking away. I see a couple other people getting dropped from the pack and decide to cathc up to them and see if I can work with them to get back to the pack. I planned to pull them a bit since they were obviously tired and then try and a get a good tempo with them to get back up there. I pull for a couple minutes and then roll back and the guy with the Trek 5200 is up on front now. There is a slight hill (<2%) and he has to stand up to maintain the pace (22mph), he drop kicks me and I did not think that was to nice. It was because he just ran out of legs to keep going. The pace dropped down about 2mph and I decided there was no way this pace would get me back up with the pack. So I go around him and get back into my own zone. I continue to pass people as they get dropped, but I cannot get enough speed to recatch the group. On the second to last lap I catch up to a guy and say hi to him and I go by and he responded. Finally, someone that is friendly. I sat up (from my TT position) and chat with him about the race and stuff. He was a nice guy and we crossed the line together at the end.

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