Sunday, October 01, 2006

6 My First Bike Race

This morning, there was a road race organised by Buffalo Bicycling Club at Langford, Boston. Me and Dave were the only two from our club to go. He's been riding and racing for 4 years now, and he's a very good cyclist. Meanwhile, I started last year, and after I got my blue Specialized Allez about 5 months back, I put a 1000 base miles on it. So I decided to give it a shot and see how it feels like.

The countryside was fantastic. Roads had rolling hills and its a good sight while to drive on them, but it is a pretty challenging course for a bike ride. 9 miles a loop, 3 laps so that made 28 miles total. It was cold and windy and we thought it would rain, but it didn't. I guess the rain is destined for later today. Anyway, so race starts and I got a slightly late start. I held on to the wheel of this big guy in a red jersey, but soon enough, everyone was getting away from me, and I found myself alone for the rest of the ride, biting the wind and the roads. Dave flatted out maybe 4 to 5 miles into the race and while he was fixing his tire, his value stem broke. I passed him along the way and I guess that meant he had to quit. I kept going and the hills could have killed me if I didn't take it easy and choose my gearing wisely. I made a few mistakes on the first lap. I was breathing hard and my heart rate was between 198-203 beat per minute. My body was telling me to stop because this was the first time I was riding fast on hills and this is coming from a guy who hasn't doesn't live in an area with a lot of hills. I would say they had moderate grade but it just came, one after the other, and after a point, my speed shot down to an average of 16mph (I was going 27mph and above on downhills).

Somehow I finished the second loop, and about 2 miles into the last lap, I flatted out. Shamelessly, I discovered I forgot my pump back in the car. A support car with our coach (Frank Grillo, officer of BBC and a bike racer himself) came and picked me up and though I was disappointed I couldn't finish that last lap just for my satisfaction, I will cherish the fact that I didn't destroy myself. I had a good workout, on the saddle, off the saddle, on and off as the hills came and went. It felt good. This is my first tiny step. Over the winter, our coach will test me for my lactate threshhold and prescribe a series of drills to do so as to train myself for the season in Spring, when there will be a lot of Collegiate Races.

If you're a beginner cyclist, put a good number of base miles and then try out a race. Its a challenging sport, but whats more better than knowing that you're getting better at it, through leaps and bounds?


  1. Anonymous7:36 AM

    I'm glad that you ejoyed it. Do you have time-trials in the US? Here in the UK they are most people's introduction to bike racing, and very satisfying as everyone gets a result! There's something about putting that number on your back that just gets the extra Joules out.
    By the way I'm writing from Coventry, where the Starleys worked to bring us the bike.

  2. Yes there are Time trials in the U.S. Why do you ask? There's probably everything here that Europe has except for the good roads, landscapes...and also the fact that not that many Americans ride bikes as in Europe.

    Yes there is something special when you have the number on your back. Infact, I've saved mine just to remember the gruelling race and the fact that I was in it. Thanks for reading.

  3. Anonymous8:57 AM

    Hi Ron, I didn't mean to be anonymous I must have clicked something!
    The reason I didn't assume that you had much time trialling there is that it became more popular in the UK than elsewhere for a particular reason. This was that it wasn't possible to close the roads to make what was then called 'massed start' events, and they were illegal on open roads. It was different in the rest of europe.
    In fact for a period, even riding time trials here was illegal and the competitors would wear black alpaca jackets (and occaionally carry a tobacco pipe) to look like a leisure cyclist.
    By the way, I must recommend two books to you:

    Bicycling Science
    by David Gordon Wilson
    Bicycles & Tricycles: A Classic Treatise on Their Design and Construction
    by Archibald Sharp

    All the best, old man!

  4. The U.S has time trials. I don't know about relative popularities. I do know its growing. I also know that I haven't done a time trial yet.

    Interesting facts about TT's in UK. Its like how drag racing is banned in the the streets of some cities. I mean, if only some people understood that it was bicycles and cyclists who came first and lobbied for good roads, people would look at us with a different outlook and allow us to do the things we enjoy.

    As for the book, I studied the one by Wilson long before I got my bike. It gives you a nice general overview of everything but I thought it fails to answer some specific questions : like why does a bicycle stabilize itself when moving etc. I want to get hold of the Wheel Book by Jobst and read that sometime.

    Thanks for your input. Any website for cycling in U.K?

  5. Anonymous10:06 AM

    Ok, last comment then I'll get back to work.
    To be honest I can't think of many UK bike websites, but uk.rec.cycling is usually a very civilzed newsgroup. My favourite bike website is a US one, Sheldon Brown, I'm would guess that you know it.
    I had also guessed that you might have read the Wilson book. I recommended the 'Bicycles and Tricycles...' book because it's so old, cheap in a modern edition and about half of it is a textbook for mechanical engineers. It was written at the time that bicycle design was much more diverse than it is now.
    I'm sure that the steering issue is covered in Wilson, and I'm sure that you know gyroscopes have nothing to do with it!

  6. Gyroscopes may or may not have anything to do with it. I remember I read a paper longtime back on the topic and forgot much of what it was all about.

    Now that you told me about this second book (and the fact that its like a textbook for ME's), I'll just go purchase one from Amazon.

    Btw,what is your job? Are you ME? I'm graduating in a year and have no idea of what I want to do! Getting into a bike design company would be nice, but how many ME's would they need? They would like more sales people in there.

    Thanks for reading.


Thank you. I read every single comment.