i had a whole ridiculously long post in which i yammered on and on about my debilitating fear of crits; how the mere mention of one would send my heartrate sky high, how i’d worry about the cornering, and the going fast on my bike stuff (which really, is an inherent problem if you want to be a bike racer), how if i didn’t ever have to do another crit that would be cool with me. about how crits used to scare the bejeezus out of me.
but all that stuff was before last weekend. the weekend of back to back crits – the finale to our spring training series. it was the weekend i finally figured a bunch of shit out that took me a year to figure out.
it started with saturday’s crit in frankfort. the same crit in which i fell off the pack early in the race. even after all my zen-like cornering practice, after coachs’ boot camp race clinics, after going in circles in any empty parking lot i could find, faster and faster each time till i got more comfortable. even after all that. i braked going into the first fast turn, fell off the group and got lapped.
but the second time the group came around, instead of relegating myself to getting lapped again, i got on that train. cause i needed a rest on a wheel after all that desperately trying to chase them in that headwind thing. i thought i’d ‘rest’ and hang on for dear life, but found out it wasn’t a hang on for dear life sort of situation. it was fast alright, but i was doing it. fast. corners. in a crit. with the group. i never touched my brakes and saw that i could corner at 20+ miles per hour. i had no reason to be falling off in the first place.
this was all i needed to know.
so the next day, armed with the knowledge that i was actually capable of riding my bike fast, through turns, with people and not touching the brakes - i lined up to race. and i raced. and stayed with the group. i wasn’t off the back and i wasn’t time trialing all alone to catch anyone; and when i saw that we had seven laps to go and i was still in it, i smiled and felt a huge wave of relief. that must have been the irrational fear leaving the building.
don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
I love it... love it... LOVE IT!! It is a wonderful thing when you drop the weight of fear and just take off!!
"i never touched my brakes and saw that i could corner at 20+ miles per hour. i had no reason to be falling off in the first place."
of course not, it's called centrifugal force. don't you remember high school science??
Nice, sometimes we need to disengage our brain and fully engage our body...I wrote about that exact thing today; spooky!
Crits scare me too...its like driving in the snow...you worry more about the other drivers...I am getting to the point where I would be A-okay not doing them at all. One's bike handling skills are key and really the only way to get the skills is to do the races. Of course you could also own the front to control the pace and avoid any bumping. I have one saturday that I am worried about because I don't know the course and I may not get a chance to pre-ride. Blaaaah - my goal is to keep the rubber on the road not my ass.
The trick is not use your brakes.
It's tough when you're in a pack with hesitant riders who are unsure of themselves. In those cases you need to ride at the front. If you're leading you don't need your brakes unless the course is technical enough where you need to brake for a certain off-camber corner or something.
Make the corners as shallow as possible - swing a wide arc from the outside to the inside of the apex then back out. This keeps your speed up, and means you don't have to use energy to 'sprint' back up to speed out of the corner. This only works when your at the front or in a line with fast riders.
Riding with the faster riders was probably the best thing you could have done. Now, the real task will be to go with them from the beginning. Hint: Don't line up at the back, and go real hard for the first few laps.
YESSSS! great post! you are rockin' that bike zanne. good for you!
sorry we missed each other last week. it was a crazy 2 days and there was no way i could have even managed a coffee. :( my brain was tired from work and i needed to get in the pool and do my thing.
next time i'll be down is july 17-18 for the cardinal harbor half ironman.
Ouch, the door ... slam ... into my face ... LOL
You go, girl. :-)
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