Loving the RACE: Aaron’s First Road Race

Join me in reading the story of participating in a first ever road race, by our Loving the Bike teammate Aaron Madrid.  We’ve posted the story of Aaron’s experience in his first ever Century Ride, but now it’s time to share his beautiful insight into what it’s like to race for the first time on a bike.

Loving the RACE

by Aaron Madrid

Two weeks before my first road race I was confident.  I felt like I had trained hard and knew what it would take to not only finish, but finish well.  In truth, a big reason I wanted to race was to test just that theory.

You don’t really know how good you are at something until you compete.  The week before the race my confidence began to grow shaky.  I made the mistake of questioning my preparedness and going on YouTube to look for some race training videos.  YouTube has very few race training videos, however there are lots of race crash videos.  My confidence was shattered in a matter of minutes and as I sat at my desk watching videos, I noticed my heart was racing.  I was terrified.  The days crawled by, but as they did I managed to calm my nerves to at least a manageable level.

The race took place a couple of hours from my home town so my wife and daughter came with me on Saturday to spend the night.  I wanted to be able to get a good night’s rest for the race early Sunday morning.  Everything was going great until that evening after we checked into the hotel when the storms rolled in.

Raining cats and dogs probably wouldn’t be enough of an accurate description for how hard it was raining, but the real cherry on top came when the tornado sirens went off.  Riding in the rain is something I have never gotten comfortable with.

To my horror, it was still pouring when I woke up the next day. I had already pre-set out my kit, cleaned and tuned my bike, and was ready to go in the morning.  I got registered, picked up my day license, and unloaded the soaking wet bike from the back of my car.  The rain was still coming down in sheets. I warmed up on the road using  advice from some awesome twitter friends and headed back to my family to wait.

The USA Cycling official began to stage the racers with about 45 minutes to go.  I was riding in a field of 50, the largest of all the fields.  The Zipp wheels and bikes that cost more than my car always blow my mind at these events, and weren’t helping my now fast beating heart to calm down.

Those distractions quickly faded into the background when a guy about my age pulled up next to me in the line wearing a helmet from the 1970’s, sitting atop an equally old Spalding Blade.  He asked if this was the area for the category 5 race and I said yes.  We began casually conversing about bikes and races. This was his first race as well.  He said he had purchased his bike at an auction for $2 and had a problem with one of the crank arms falling off when he got up to speed.  He wasn’t even a little nervous.  His blind optimism made me realize just how silly I was being for acting nervous.

All at once I was calm again, the rain stopped, and then I heard my daughter yelling “daddy” from the side of the road.  Granted she was yelling daddy all 200 guys dressed in a kit, wearing a helmet, and standing over their bikes, but at that moment I felt pretty sure she was actually cheering for me.  My wife brought her over to give me a kiss for good luck and we snapped a picture of her sitting on my handlebars just before the official called us up to the line.  That was all the motivation and confidence I needed.

A few minutes later the whistle blew and we all clipped in and took off.  My mind was instantly completely clear and all I was doing was pedaling.  The first sharp 90 degree turn came about 1000 feet out of the gate.  I was riding towards the front of the pack just like I had planned.  My goal was to stay in the top 20 to avoid any crashes that might happen in the back of the pack.

Page 1 of 3 | Next page