Photo: [phil h], Flickr Creative Commons
First, I'd like to point out that if I have at any point commented to you, in person or through my blog, that I intended on going pro as a cyclist by the end of the year, that I spoke with only the utmost of verbal irony. In other words, I'm fully aware that I lack both the natural ability and the youthful starting age of the guys who actually have a shot at those dreams. Also, from what I've seen, I think I may be too tall to be a competitive cyclist. Either the models who kissed the stage winner at the end of each day of the Tour de Romandie earlier this month were giants, or the average pro cyclist is well under six feet tall. Makes sense. They're lugging around a lot less weight than the rest of us.
It's just frustrating having your limitations thrust into your face. I'm starting to get that feeling now. Just to see what I could expect in my criterium bike race this weekend, I went out looking for results for other similar races in my category around the state. Most of the results were meaningless. My crit is a 30-minute crit and seeing that someone finished a 30-minute crit in 29 or 31 minutes tells me nothing. If I don't know how far they went in that time, I have no way to compare it to my time. Finally, I found a crit held in Atlanta recently and I scrolled down the list to the category 5 race (the "beginners," my people) to discover that the guy who basically came in last held an average speed for the entire course that would have smoked my best ever average over that distance. I frequently do a 9-mile route. It takes me about 30 minutes. It's my short training route so I'm really familiar with that I can maintain over that distance. Keeping myself going 19 mph on average is a successful run. Sure, the terrain is lightly rolling and the asphalt is rough, but I'm not competing with a guy who averaged 22.5 mph for 30 minutes. The guy who came in last and was pulled because he fell too far off the pace averaged a mile per hour better than my record pace. I'm so screwed.
Except, if I remember correctly, the streets on the block where I'll be racing are very smooth. On my long training route, there's only one stretch of good road that starts around the 11th mile and I often average around 22.5 mph on the second mile of that stretch and about 20.5 mph for the entire stretch even though it's the hilliest section of my route. Also if I remember correctly, the block I'll be racing is nearly flat. Holy crap. There's a chance I would have been competitive in that Atlanta cat 5 race and I find it hard to believe that the competition will be tougher in a much smaller city. I probably don't have any real chance of winning, but I do have a real chance of finishing with the pack. Also, I don't have to feel quite so stupid about daydreaming about a sprint to the finish and making the podium.
True, I would have gotten spanked in any of the other racing categories, but I've only been on the bike for a little more than three months now. I should get better if I stick with this. Dammit, I'm going pro by the end of the year and all you doubters can suck on a derailleur.