Tonight I raced in my second bicycle criterium at the crit series held every Wednesday night in Memorial Park. This was week 6 of the series this summer and the first chance I had to race; I had been out during week 4 but I forgot my cycling license that day so I just watched.

I had a long 45 minute warmup before the race started; in retrospect that was way too long of a warmup. The race started out with the girls being given a warmup and then a prime lap and the guys were asked not to pass the girls until their prime lap was over. This gave us 2 laps at a comfortable pace of 23 to 24 mph that made for a great warmup all on its own. As soon as the race began in earnest the speeds kicked up to 28 mph and I only made it about 3/4 of the way through that lap before I was dropped.

mpcrit-2008-07-09

Originally uploaded by dcgibbons

I tried the auto-lap feature of my heart rate monitor and tried hard to ignore it completely during the race, for better or worse. Looking back at the data afterwards gives me a pretty clear idea of what I can maintain in at a casual pace, a fast solo pace, and a fast group pace. There’s a lot of room left for improvement just to be able to keep up with the main pack, but that is really not a surprise at all.

The Memorial Park picnic loop is a great circuit for the race. The circuit is long enough that if you aren’t in the main pack you will have room to ride without being constantly lapped. Most of the corners in the circuit are fast and easy, with only two requiring a great deal of care. We didn’t have any wrecks in this weeks’ race, but I understand that here have been plenty this season, but that’s somewhat to be expected of aggressive criterium racing.

I will say that the Madone 5.2 Pro I’m riding now corners like it is on rails and it is just an amazingly bike for building confidence - at least until the first time I go down.