The Early Bird Clinic and Practice Races should be mandatory for all new cyclists. Looking back now, I have learned a lot from each mentoring session and each criterium. It is also a great way to meet new people and to figure out your strengths, weaknesses, and how to best improve your rides.

This entry is all about the first of four Sundays I spent at the Early Birds in Fremont during the month of January. The mentoring session was very helpful for me as I was definitely under the impression that I should avoid riding over bot dots (those bumpy dividers in the roads here in CA) whenever possible. Now, I feel much more comfortable riding over the bumpy street markers if they happen to enter my cycling path.

As for the 40 min crit., after a good 15 minute warm-up they divided our women’s field into two big groups (the first being Cat 3 and experienced Cat 4 women, and those who have done more than 10 races over the course of the previous year). I started in the second group (Cat 4 women, including those with less than 10 races under their belt). At the start of the race everyone was very much out of control. There was a lot of swerving going and well into the beginning, someone crashed a few riders ahead of me. I was lucky and was able to avoid the crash. From what I heard, a fairly large group restarted the crit. after the first crash. Of the girls who avoided the crash, four of us broke away at a good pace. We did a great job at working together, though three of us were definitely irritated by the reckless, or unpredictable swerving of the fourth rider. With five or six laps to go, the rider in front of me (Sarah, UC Davis jersey) hit wheels with ‘the reckless one’ and crashed right in front of me. I unfortunately went down as a consequence and ended up with a torn back tire when my brakes locked-up. It was really too bad the crash happened as we were gaining on the first Cat 3/Experienced Cat 4 group. In the end, the two girls left in the break-away pack overtook the other big group and finished 1st and 2nd.

Lessons learned—1) get in the front (top 5-10 riders) from the gun, 2) be vocal and work with others to make the best use of one’s energy, 3) stay away from ‘the reckless one’ whenever possible but don’t back down when she makes a move.

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