Pretty Racy

Oh goodygoodygoodygoodygoody!!!! Christmas has come extra late this year for Cyclechick, but well worth the wait. The Manitoba Cycling Association has posted the 2010 race schedule: 15 criteriums, 3 time trials, 8 road races, 9 cyclecross… and a bike helmet in a pear tree. PLUS Muddy Waters 100 miler and a host of Randonneur rides ranging from 200 to 1000 km. Oh, and the MS Tour at Clear Lake, MUST do that one this year. AND the St. Malo triathon. Can’t forget that too. So many races, so little time. So what’s a girl to do? This is, of course an extremely loaded question, considering I have a full time job, 2 kids, and might actually entertain the idea of relaxing at the cabin with a g&t from time to time this summer, races be damned. Let’s weigh the pros and cons of each race category. That should help narrow things down to a more manageable number.

These are fast, closed-track races held Tuesday nights at Assiniboine Park formal gardens. Generally for my category (beginners and “mature” folks, both of which apply) it’s 25 minutes plus 3 laps. The person with the most laps in the specified time wins.
Pro: Very close to home and very short in duration, so little family time is compromised.
Con: Ridiculously dangerous, in fact borderline psychotic. Many crashes due to lots of riders riding very close together at high speed on a course with tight corners.
Pro: They even let 40 year old moms race. With 20 year old boys.
Con: The only thing worse than the crashes is the mosquitos. I think the mosquitoes are aware of the high potential for fresh blood.
Con: Very tough, full-out sprint-’til-you-puke effort
Pro: Spectator-friendly due to loop course, so I can invite friends and family to watch me get my ass kicked by 20 year old boys.

Road Races
Classic style, draft-legal races in the true European tradition. Whoever crosses the line first wins and gets to drink wine sooner than everyone else. I’ve never done one, but what the hell, I’ve watched the Tour de France on TV, how hard can it be?
Pro: Great way to experience the true art of road riding and meet experienced racers.
Con: No actual understanding of tactics, so winning is highly unlikely.
Pro: Cute racing gear. Lots of toned bums in spandex.
Con: Some travel time involved. Could mean some hard negotiations with spouse.

Time Trials
Similar to triathlon races, these races are strictly rider against the clock, no drafting (riding close behind another rider to take advantage of the slipstream). The only one I’ve done was a single 13 km loop of Bird’s Hill Park. Nearly vomited at the end, but somehow managed to be the fastest woman there and won my entrance fee back. woo hoo!!
Pro: Very safe, provided you don’t hit a deer.
Con: Bit of a hike for a relatively short race.
Pro: Better than spending a beautiful summer evening doing laundry or cutting the grass.
Con: Seem to recall having to pee in bushes.
Con: Last year ran into my triathlon coach mid-race who was out for a leisurely ride while I was hovering close to double my maximum heart rate. After chatting for a while, he casually asked if I was out for the race (the numbers pinned to my jersey obviously too subtle a clue). Next time I bring a stick.
Con: Have to put those ugly aero bars back on my bike.

Randonneur Rides
It’s all about distance, starting (yes, starting) at 200km, then increasing to 300, 400, 600 and even 1000 kilometers. I did a 200 km ride (technically these are called
Brevets, a French word meaning ride forever until your legs fall off and then ride for another 6 kilometers) at the end of the season last year and it almost killed me. In the last kilometer I came close to climbing off my bike and tossing it over an overpass. The only thing that stopped me was being physically unable to do so.
Pro: Excellent fully supported rides with stops for refreshments, and even a full breakfast
Con: It’s all about pacing. You work too hard at the beginning, by the end you’re a gonner.
Pro: Fancy medal and certificate from the Audax Club Parisien. In Paris. That’s right. Paris.
Pro: Do a full series and you qualify for Paris-Brest-Paris, the mother of all endurance rides. 1200 kms of almost constant riding where people actually fall asleep on their bikes and end up in a ditch.
Pro: Full bragging rights for cycling a distance most people find uncomfortable to do in their cars.
Con: The weather (or the company) can make or break your day in a big way.

Well, that’s a lot to consider for right now. No clear direction right now except the one that points towards my bed. By the way, the photo above is from a criterium race in Toronto. They really need to be more careful out there.