For a variety of reasons ??? namely time and curiosity ??? I have decided to give bike racing a go this year. Triathlon is a great sport and I???d love to have a calendar full of them, but it???s just not realistic at this point in my life (9 month old baby!). In fact, towards the end of last year I had pretty much resigned the idea of doing any racing of any sort in 2018, but then I won the KOM challenge at Phil???s Fondo, surprised myself week in and week out on the Simi Ride, and set a couple KOM???s on former Amgen Tour of California segments??(Aliso Canyon from Stage 7 of the 2014 tour and Norwegian Grade from Stage 8 of 2011), which all get me thinking?????maybe I can do some bike racing?!
Of the three sports that make up a triathlon, there is no doubt that cycling takes up the most time. So why not stick to swimming or running you ask? I generally work a ???4-40??? work week, which means 10 hour days Monday through Thursday and Friday off. I have very little time for any training during the work week, and with my background, I can???t skip four days of swimming in a row and expect to build any form. Running is similar, in that it rewards consistency in training. With my running background, I know I won???t be setting any new PR???s without a serious focus on consistent, high mileage run training. With cycling, however, I can pack in the hours as a typical weekend warrior and, it appears thus far, with pretty good results. And of the three sports, you can have the most fun as a ???pretty good??? cyclist, vs. being a pretty good swimmer or pretty good runner.
Cat 5 Hero
For those of you that??aren???t familiar with the USA Cycling system, it is broken into categories: beginning with ???Cat??? 5 through 1 (and then technically there are pro categories beyond that). Each race is divided by categories (though they often combine two or three categories for smaller events), so you only compete with cyclists that are, in theory, at a similar level to you ??? everyone can have a competitive experience, from novice to expert. Everyone starts out as a 5, regardless of their background. In order to upgrade from 4 to 3, 3 to 2 and 2 to 1, you have to accumulate points by finishing well at races. To upgrade from 5 to 4, however, you have to complete TEN races. Ten! It doesn???t matter how well you place, so long as you do the ten races.
On Sunday I competed in my fifth race as a cat 5 (I did two races on a whim in 2016 and two more in 2017) at the Ontario ???Ice Breaker??? Criterium. Cat 5 crits are infamous for crashes, as you might imagine with lots of inexperienced riders taking approximately 100 turns together. I kept near the front, until the last 5 laps where I broke away and rode to the finish solo.
I honestly feel I don’t really belong in cat 5 (some of peers feel the same way, apparently — see below) and I’m anxious to upgrade soon. This Sunday I will be at the Dominguez Hills CBR to get some more experience and move one step closer to cat 4.
Team Simple Green
At one of Neil Shirley’s “4 Days to Fitness” rides around New Year’s, I met Jason Francia who rides for Team Simple Green. I told him I was interested in doing more racing and he said I should look into joining Team Simple Green. I have only been a member for a few days now, so perhaps I will have more to share on the team dynamic in the near future, but I am excited to have some mentors in cycling and to have a team to be accountable to again. I will be rocking the bright green at the race this weekend!
It’s still a bit too soon to say what I am hoping to achieve in my cycling racing. For now I’m just happy to be racing and training with a bit more purpose again.