Last winter, when trying to figure out my event schedule for this summer, I stumbled across the Ann Arbor Velo Club's Sprint Training Series. Until last summer I haven't had much experience with actual road races, and I don't count my triathlon experience. Why? Because in a triathlon you (at least theoretically) all ride single file and far enough away from each other that you can't draft. In a road race, however, people clump up very closely and draft a lot. Since I was new to road racing, this sort of thing seemed quite intimidating. I figured the Spring Training Series would at least help me gain some of that experience. I have no intention to race criteriums, but learning how to ride in a tight pack would help. So, I signed up for the series.
|Part of the course, coned off|
The series worked a lot like the CXpreX series, where there was a clinic for absolute beginners at 8am and then a low key race at 9am. The clinics were lead by Lucas from Develo Coaching. As an absolute beginner I felt like they covered exactly all the things I wanted to learn from the series. It started out with learning how to ride a pace line, then in a group. And then we learned about sprinting and overtaking. We even learned how to react to when someone makes contact with you. The drills were always appropriate for the skill we were supposed to be learning.
The races were an amazingly humbling experience. I learned very early on that drafting is real, and it really works. During the first race I started out timid and never really latched onto the main group. I then spent the rest of the race doing a 25 minute time trial. In the next race I made an effort to start with the main group and stay there and it worked. I was able to stick with it until the last lap when everyone decided to go fast. There's quite a bit I'd have to improve if I were to try to compete in crits (which I don't think I will). I think I'd have to drop at least an additional 20 lbs and train my anaerobic threshold (the extensive endurance training didn't seem to help me out).
|Wall of bikes getting ready for the clinic|
|At the starting lineup|