The 2015 Race season is my first as a cyclist. I have competed in various sports throughout the years, and the single commonality across all of them is the excitement that inevitable comes with opening day. There is the eager anticipation to validate all of the training you have put it, the curiosity as to what the experience will be like, and the slight anxiety produced by the voice in the back of your head questioning if you are ready.
My opening day was the Cal Aggie Criterium held on January 31st. Since getting on a road bike last July I had amassed over 250 hours of training covering just over 4,100 miles on my bike. I had been hit by a car, ridden in rain and snow, suffered through winter months on a trainer, and altered my schedule completely to accomidate my training. Needless to say, I was ready to validate that this all had been worth while.
My curiosity was peaked. I had talked racing and strategy with anyone who had any experience at any available opportunity. This included teammates on team rides (Thanks Kevin and Colby!), people who have since stopped racing but had years of previous experience, and I even managed to turn the two hour car ride to the event into a crash course in Criterium strategy. I was ready to experience all of this first hand and have my own race stories to tell.
And yes, I was a little anxious. I trusted my training and felt like I had strong legs, but what if everyone else did too? What if the slight confidence I had going into the race was completely misplaced? Most of all I was afraid that I would not enjoy an experience I had been preparing for for months….
As one would expect, once the race started none of this mattered! The adrenaline flushed everything and the only thing I focused on was the race, my legs, and the wheel in front of me. I ended up 16th in a field of 50 and that was okay. I confirmed that my training prepared me more than enough and from here I can only improve as I gain experience. I confirmed that I was physically ready and that I need to listen to more strategy advice. I confirmed that I will be competitive as a cyclist. But most importantly I confirmed that I love racing, love the sport of cycling, and cannot wait for the next opportunity to get out there and give it a go!