There are 3 components. A bike race, a time trial, and a crit. Some bike races are different but this weekend the bike race (40 miles) was Saturday morning, the time trial (4 miles) was Saturday night, and the crit was Sunday morning.
The bike race (which I did) is really different than anything I had ever done before. During a bike race you start out in one big pack divided up by categories. Cat 4 for women is the "beginner" and Cat 5 for men is the "beginner" categories. It goes up to Cat 1/2 Pro for men and women. Since there are so many more men doing the race than women they started the men off at different times depending on their category. For the women, we started off all together (1/2 Pro, 3, and 4). There was a "neutral zone" for about 1.5 miles. During this time you are trying to jockey for a good position in the pack. It is sorta like driving into Chicago or Atlanta. You gotta fight for getting in and not letting someone get into the pack. If you get a good position, then when the speed picks up you are not on the end trying to fight the constant Yo-Yo effect. The Yo-Yo is when the front of the pack makes small changes in speed it trickles back on the back of the pack in big changes. When you are an inexperienced rider, you will find yourself on the back more often than not. Just like I did ;-)
I thought I was doing ok, until the neutral zone was over. Whoops. I didn't have the guts to push up into the front, so when the first attack/climb happened about 10 miles into the ride, I got dropped like a sac of potatoes. I fought to catch my teammate that also got dropped. I caught up to Jennifer and we drafted off of each other for a bit and then I was pulling her up a climb and thought she was on my wheel, but I lost her after the last part of the first climb. Darn. Sorry. One of the course marshals said I was only 1 minute off of the pack and if I sprinted I could catch them. It is so much easier riding in a pack than by yourself, so I sprinted. And sprinted. And sprinted. I kept seeing car traffic slowing in front of me and figured they were JUST up there and I could maybe catch them, but unfortunately one person trying to catch 10, just isn't going to work. So I time trialed (TT) for the next 25 miles.
The race ends on one of the hardest climbs I have ever done down here. Remember my first bike post? That climb on Raccoon Mountain? Yup. That was the climb. In a race. At the end of 40 miles!!! UGH. I did better on the climb than I have ever done. I got some great numbers from my power tap. Which was AWESOME. Ok, I will try to break down power. Back home when I did the TT course for 40 kilometers (~ 26.4 miles) my average power output was 135. On Saturday for 40 miles, not 40 km, my average power was 160!!!! My power to weight ratio is approximately .67! Most pro riders have a power to weight ratio around or above .80. I am so happy. So all in all, I got spit off the pack early, but have proven to myself that I am a decent rider down here. I just have to work on hills and getting into my "pain cave."
The TT was Saturday afternoon. Since Saturday was my last day at Hennen's I didn't want to TT and lose face/money at Hennen's. The TT was only 4 miles. Andy and I are used to time trialing for a lot longer distance. 4 miles is not even enough time to blink, let alone redline for a decent time. Wish I could have seen/done it. Next year for sure.
The crit was Sunday morning. Sorta the same thing as the road race. They break you up into your categories 1/2 Pro, 3, 4, and 5. You get 40 minutes to go around a 1 mile loop in downtown Chattanooga and the guy/gal that goes around the most wins the crit. Very very fast paced and very hard effort. I didn't do the crit this year, but just like the TT; it is on like Donkey Kong next year!
Here are some pictures from the weekend...
Below: race morning with Lookout Mountain in the background all misty/cloudy
Below: Krystal Chiks Team
(Left to Right: Jennifer, Kristi, Ashley, Meghan, Me, Barbie, & Stephanie)
Below: Andy and his teammate Ricky warming up for the crit