The second criterium I ever raced was a last minute (literally) decision in Atlanta the day after returning from Alabama’s road race. I forgot to set my iPhone back to eastern time and found myself panicked looking for a parking spot around the Grant Park area in the heart of Atlanta at the last minute. I was alone, driving around and praying for a spot when I finally found one and rode my way to the registration tent with about fifteen minutes to spare before the lineup.
At the start line with no warm up, the USA Cycling official pointed out my number was upside down, and she helped me with another teammate to remedy that newbie mistake. I found myself surrounded by Frazier junior cyclists who looked ready to roll. I really needed a warm up. The rules were read and the race was off. I felt sluggish and a little bit tired from yesterday’s effort, and I also forgot to tell myself the pain I was feeling was the lack of warm-up.
I always have a lot of thoughts running through my head in a race situation. Mountain bike racing is more about nerves and pure strength. Road racing is about hanging on and teamwork and racing smart. I like them both, and in both my thoughts race.
At the first turn, there was an immediate descent. I had never ridden the course and I found myself feathering the brakes a little too much the first loop. I still hung onto the group. On the 4th lap, I decided to go for a prime. Once again, I went too early on the midpoint of the hill and was passed for the prime. A break was established thanks to my newbie mistake, and I spent the rest of the race pulling a Frazier junior named Isabella. I’m almost 30 years older than her. I sometimes think, why didn’t I have something like this as a teen? I love watching juniors race.
If you watch the flyby, you can see how I was basically Isabella’s domestique the rest of the crit.
I finsihed 9th out of 13 in a field of cat 3 and 4 women. I learned two important things. Warm ups are critical. I need patience.