Map of Huennekens
San Diego, CA 92121
This was the first real criterium I've ever done. Last year I entered one road race, which is a very different beast. In a road race the pack tends to string out as soon as you hit the first big hill, i.e. you tend not to do as much riding in a pack.
In a criterium you're riding with 100 or so riders in a closely packed peloton. Criterium courses are typically quite flat and normally have some 90 degree turns thrown in for good measure. So if you've done any sort of riding you can imagine what this leads to; fast riding along the straight-aways (some where around 28 mph), slowing down while taking the corners, and then hammering on the pedals as the race accelerates out of the corner. Repeat 100 or so times while keeping out of trouble and you've got it down.
My biggest two fears for the day were that I'd either do something stupid and cause a crash, or not be able to ride hard enough to keep up with the pack. Thus, my goals were to not cause a crash and ride with the pack the entire race. This race was particularly interesting because there were some category 1 and pro racers who showed up, so you knew it was going to be quick. Also, as I was still in the 2nd base (aerobic development) phase of my training schedule, I hadn't been doing a lot of hard riding and high heart-rate work, so it was certainly possible that the pack would eventually ride away from me.
Well, I'm happy to report that I finished the race, rode with the pack the whole way, and spent some time on the front. I actually felt pretty comfortable. I didn't finish as strongly as I probably could have (somewhere mid-pack), but I certainly met my two biggest objectives.
Next week racing starts for real with the Red Trolley Classic. I've prioritized this race as a C priority because I'm still nowhere near where I want to be with regard to fitness this season. Races will be prioritized as B's beginning the last week of March and A's at the end of April.
A = races that I plan to be at my best, both mentally and physically. I expect to be able to perform at a level whereby I can win the race.
B = races that are used as training and preparation for A races.
C = races that are there on the schedule, but I don't really care too much how they end. I won't be doing anything special to prepare for these races.