While I seldom enter a race without high expectations, realistically I knew that with only 3 to 4 rides under my belt for the whole year and less than 200 miles total, my chances in a 31 mile race probably weren’t that high. Even though I would be racing in the lowest category, CAT 5, that doesn’t mean that there wouldn’t be good riders in the group, it just meant the chances for a crash were that much higher. So I had two goals for the day, avoid crashing and stay in the lead pack, if I succeeded with those two goals, than maybe I would be in a position to have some fun at the end.
I succeeded with both goals and was able to have fun at the end. With about 2 miles left in the race there were still well over 40 of us remaining in the lead pack and what had been a moderately comfortable pace of around 22mph quickly picked up to around 30mph. The referees had been pretty clear in warning that crossing the yellow line at the finish would result in disqualification, yet with 40+ cyclists thundering down the road in one lane, and CAT 5 riders at that, I was just a little nervous… I probably should have moved forward sooner, by the time I started working my way to the front we were less than 1 mile out and the front was tightly bunched. At least I didn’t have to worry about jumping to soon like I had in my last road race, taking the lead with a round 500 meters to go only to find myself swallowed up by the pack. It was looking like I would finish well out of the top 10 as there were still around 20 cyclists in front of me. Finally, in the last 500 meters with the pace rocketing up to around 35 mph, things began to open up a little and I started moving up through the pack. A little too late to compete for the win, but not too late to break into the top 10 with an 8th place finish, just edged out on the line for 7th place. It’s nice to be racing again!