Today was the annual Bear Creek Criterium. This is a short 0.8 mile flat loop through the middle of a heavily forested park. The course is non-technical, with really only one corner that requires any skill and the rest being wide open.

I entered and raced, in what was my very first cycling event, as a category 5 rider. In USAF rules male riders start as category 5 until they have ridden in 10 events at which point they are upgraded to category 4. From category 4 on up everything is based upon points, so you have to start placing well to advance.

I had been previously warned that on your first race you will almost certainly be dropped and sure enough that happened to me. The race started well and the first two laps I stayed near the front or middle of the pack. On the third lap I ran out of juice and had to slow my pace and I fell behind the main group.

In hindsight, looking down at my heart rate monitor was probably not the best idea. Once I saw my heart rate was at 184 I began to focus on that; I likely could have gone further had I not known what the rate was.

The speeds while I was with the main group varied between 24 and 28 MPH. Once I dropped off I kept my pace at 20 MPH through most of the race. That pace still managed to get me lapped 4 times total before the end of the race, though. But, I finished!

It was a blast and I can’t wait to do it again, but only after spending a lot of time working on speed drills!

Zooming at the Bear Creek Criterium
see more pics of the criterium