Tonight was my first race at the Washington Boulevard Cycling Oval. I registered for the Class C race in an effort to see where I might fall amongst other people. Thanks to Brian for pointing me in the right direction.
I didn't do as badly as I thought I might have. I finished 13th in a field of 18, and I think I stuck with the group pretty well throughout the race.
I did get some help from one of the marshals. At one point I lost the guy in front of me and I was having trouble getting back up, so someone planted a hand on my back and helped push me back into the group. If not for that, I probably would have been completely out of reach of the rest of the field.
There are at least two things I need to improve:
I need to be a lot better at holding my line through the turns. I'm pretty sure I made a lot of the other riders fairly nervous (actually, probably pissed off) on at least a few occasions, and the marshals told me a few times to do a better job. At one point someone told me to relax my elbows a little bit, and I think that helped.
I should probably downshift as we approach the slope at the end of the lap, and then shift back up once we get to the top. It wasn't so much that I was really having trouble staying with people going up the slope, but I might be able to make it a little easier on myself if I don't have to hammer so hard to do so.
There are other things, I'm sure, but those are probably the big ones. As time goes on, I can think about moving up and stuff like that.
At one point I grabbed the wheel of someone who was moving up. It turns out he was moving to the front of the pack (I think he ended up finishing first or second). I was able to stay with him for close to a lap, but then he was gone and I was in the middle of nowhere trying to keep the momentum on my own. It didn't take long for the rest of the group to catch me and spit back toward the end.
Apart from that, I felt pretty good. Definitely good enough to want to go back next week and do it again. I need to go back down to the oval on my own, or better yet, with someone else, to practice the turns with a rider on my right. I don't want to cause undue anxiety, or worse yet, a wreck.