Are you ready for something fun, something new, and something to challenge your fitness level? I’ve got just the thing. Dust off your bicycle (or borrow one from a friend), fasten your helmet, start riding, and participate – even compete – in a bicycle race!
Yes, I said bicycle race. Yes, you can do this.
I’m not talking about a road race or criterium (several laps on a closed course, also known as “crit” for short). Both require confidence and experience riding in groups and drafting other cyclists.
I’m not talking about mountain bike racing either. That requires good bike handling skills and ability to handle riding upon uneven, rocky paths and slopes.
I’m also not referring to hill climbs. I weigh more than I want to so the idea of creeping up a four to eight percent grade with steep sections for about four miles is, well, more challenging than I’m either ready for or want to do.
But give me a time trial! It’s just my bike and me against the clock. It’s a solo effort because group riding and drafting are not permitted.
Last March, I competed in the Mesquite Senior Games’ 3-mile time trial on a hilly course. When pushing my bike up a fairly steep grade, I was passed by the winner who “grinded” her pedals (my term for using one’s body weight to help push down on bike pedals). But I did so much better than during a practice pre-race ride! I snagged the silver medal with a time of 15:51.7 minutes.
I debated on entering the Utah Summer Games’ 10-mile time trial held in June but opted out. That’s because I didn’t think my level of training was ready for the distance and resistance caused by usual strong late afternoon summer winds.
In July, I did my best in the Washington State Senior Games’ 5K time trial. The steep grade on 81st Ave NW was wickedly fun on the downhill but brutal on the climb back toward the finish line. I managed to climb one-third of that short distance before having to get off the bike. My heart pounded and my lungs burned all the way to the top. I finished in 20:26.34 minutes, good enough for third place and a bronze medal. Still, I wouldn’t have done that well if I hadn’t worked out at my coach’s indoor bike classes, core training sessions, and riding on my own.
In September, I competed in the Nevada Senior Game’s 5K time trial. I really liked the straight, rolling paved course outside Las Vegas on a road that parallels Interstate 15. I certainly could have done without the strong wind that day! I managed to cross the finish line in 23:32.8 minutes and win a silver medal.
I still have October’s Huntsman World Senior Games’ 20K time trial on my to-do list. The event is usually held the same day as the 5K race walk and the sport social. While I could easily train for both events, it could be tricky getting from the 5K race venue to the cycling venue in time for start of the cycling event.
Let me know how you do in the comments section below. Good luck!