Mystic Velo Criterium Race Report

Note: The Strava data was from Dana, not me since I forgot to turn my Strava on at the starting line.

valerie-mystic
Photo by Mike McCabe

Event: Mystic Velo Criterium Race

Cat 3/4 Women’s Race

Distance: 17 laps (15 miles)

Start time: 9:05 a.m.

Wind speed: 9-10mph South by Southwest (?)

Riders: Dana and Valerie

Dana asked me to write a race report for yesterday’s race. This… might not be what she meant since I get a bit rambly and retrospective here. This was my very first crit race, unless you count the one time I attempted the Black Falcon crit and got dropped in the first three seconds in the single-speed/fixed race. This time around was a bit different.

As you can see from the linked Strava map, the Mystic Velo Criterium course is hourglass-like. Two things that Valerie is not particularly good at:

  1. Going really fast
  2. Taking sharp turns

Criterium racing, for those unfamiliar, tend to have the following:

  1. Going really fast
  2. Taking sharp turns
Dana, off the back by this point
Dana, off the back by this point, photo by Mike McCabe

However, despite the hourglass shape, the course was wide and the corners were fairly soft. No elevation changes, but windy at some parts. I quickly learned the importance on staying on someone’s wheel right away in the race, as I fell to the last spot of the group by the first corner and then by the second corner, had difficulty staying on. Well into the first lap, I was off the back. Dana held on to the group until the first prime lap (pronounced “preem,” a lap where whoever gets first place for that lap wins a prize), which was around 11 to go. Among the prime prizes that day: beer and chocolate easter bunnies. If there’s not a better reason for me to want to get faster, then I don’t know what else could motivate me.

Despite losing sight of the group after the first few laps, I still kept going. At one point in time, I caught up with Audrey from Boston Road Club and completely failed at working with her to catch up with the pack. Another lesson learned: when someone tells you to get on their wheel, you get on their wheel. Once the field was about to lap me, I had that moment of “Holy crap, what do I do now?” panic, but then realized this was no different from when I’m dodging automobile traffic commuting on Massachusetts Avenue back in Boston (perhaps even safer). Just ride predictably, hold your line and let them pass. I got lapped twice, but I just had to remember DFL>DNF>DNS. This was a long way away from being the girl on the heavy blue mixte back in Portland seven years ago who got passed by everyone on Hawthorne bridge while commuting and definitely a long way away from being the girl who was too scared to ride her bike in Boston traffic five years ago. I may have been left in the dust, wheezing like a vacuum cleaner trying to pick up a penny and feeling like I was going to throw up the whole time, but you better believe I gave it everything I could to try to catch up with the pack. Dana finished a significant distance in front of me.

Results

My awkwardly instagrammed picture of the results board.

After the race, Dana and I hung out with Jen from Comprehensive Cycling (and the 2nd place winner of our race). Jen commented what she loves about racing is that you learn something new with each race. I know I sure as heck learned a lot with just this one race. Then we watched the men’s 3/4 and then the juniors race. The older kids were really fast (although I got nervous a couple of times just seeing a couple of times there was wheel overlap at one of the corners). The wee kids had heart. They were definitely the ones to cheer on. I know I wouldn’t have been able to do that as a kid, especially on the 3rd-degree hand-me-down pink Huffy I got from my cousins with the banana seat and the apehanger bars.

Afterward, we picked up coffee and a light lunch at the delightfully named Brewed Awakenings.

So, tl;dr: This wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. I learned a lot and I look forward to the next race. To Providence!

Not sure if Dana wants to add more to this, so I’ll leave it at that.

Ride your bike!

– Valerie (aka The Girl on the Green Bike)