Road Racing off to a rather Flat start…
In the mid part of January 2013 my dad finally finished paying for my first Road Racing bike, I had trained most of the winter recovering from a broken collar bone very excited to have the possibility to road race the next season as I have wanted to race road bikes professionally since I was in the 6th grade. I finished out the spin class season feeling awesome about my abilities as a rider. I missed the first month of the season due to complications in getting to the races. Finally in early April, I was able to have the opportunity to go to a race called Vance Creek Road Race, I was told by my teammates that the course would be great to start on and it was relatively flat with one small climb.
I live in Ellensburg WA and most of the races in Washington are on the west side of the mountains, this one included, we drove for 3 hours to get to the race. Upon arrival to the parking lot I was nervous to race for the first time, but i was confident about my ability to ride my bike and the things I learned in my beginner to road racing class earlier in January. I got more and more nervous through my warm up but did my best to stay calm and focused (which was really hard for me since I already have a hard time concentrating on anything) and then I lined up after riding across a smooth gravel area between the start area and parking lot, once I was lined up my nerves eased up a little bit as they normally do when I race, the whistle blew and I calmly started to ride the bike disregarding the fact that it is safer to ride in the front, I decided to hang out in the back. There were only about 25 riders racing but some other juniors got on the front and put the pressure on pretty hard on the downhill section of the course. As I was holding on at the back of the race I remember thinking to myself, “Why are these guys working so hard we are on a flat farm road in the first half of the race?!”. I held on fairly comfortably until the few rolling hills that led up to the short climb to the finish line. I found myself passing half of the field just by using my momentum, when we hit the actual hill the race blew apart and there was one group I saw in front of the group I was in, both groups were about 10 riders. I was willing to work with these guys, so I did, but half way around the second time I decided to make some time by hopping off the front and making them chase but when I got back into the group I felt my tire go soft thinking ” this cant be happening” sure enough I muttered a few choice words and fell back with a very low tire which soon went flat. I walked a good mile then one of the follow cars for another race picked me up and took me back to the parking area.
A few weeks after this happened I got to go to the first Crit of the season, a 2 hour drive, I was very excited. We had one of our buddies with a broken collar bone and another with a torn shoulder going with the two of us that could ride, my shoulder still hadn’t gotten back to strength. Then about 15 min away from the race everyone heard a noise so we stopped the car and sure enough, me involving a bike race what could it be? It was in fact a flat tire on the car, so we had 3 injured people and one other man who was fully capable of changing a tire. We ended up unloading the car, changing the tire, and reloading the car in a super rush to get me there in time to have a chance to race, we drove as fast as we could and I got dressed in the car and we jumped out of the car and I signed a waiver and bam, time to roll out and not 3 min after I got rolled out it was time to start. So here I was cold and not warmed up and in the first lap I got dropped and chased the rest of the race to catch up and take 14th place.
The next race I went to was a beautiful day, I got there and I felt great about it. I did my turn on the front then at the top of a roller on the flat to rolling course I accidentally found myself off the front, upon being sucked back I hit a rock and once again found a flat tire, never could have thought that would happen to me, luckily there was a man just out riding the course and he gave me his wheel seeing that I was very angry because there was no neutral wheels like they told me. I thanked him and road my hardest the rest of the race. Later that day I got my wheel back fixed and the man took his wheel back, to ride the course backwards and watch my buddy Jordan sprint like a pro to the win of his race. They say bad luck comes in three’s, I guess they are correct, except my bad luck continued with other little problems. Moral of this story is, don’t trust your equipment or the tires that come with your bike, don’t worry about the weight you gain by getting flat protection because it may just save you a race.