I consider today's race my first since I didn't finish one I entered in Boulder, Colorado at age 20 when I got lapped very quickly and therefore disqualified.
Got up at 4:30 am this morning in order to arrive in Dominguez Hills for a USA Cycling criterium. A criterium is a closed circuit course that you ride around for a set time or a certain amount of laps.
In my case I was registered as a Category 5 rider which is the low rung on the ladder of bike racing. Glad I pre-registered since the 50 slots filled up before race day. I bought a one day license. signed a waiver, and before I knew it I was doing warm up laps with some other cat 5 riders. 4 right turns over 1.5 kms with a slight uphill finish. Pretty fun and speedy. I got up to the second row to start and at 7 am we got some info from a race official about how to race. I was only one of two to raise their hand when the official asked if there were any first timers.
The pace was fast from the start. 45 km/hr (28 mph) in the two flat sections. I took the corners on the outside and though I stayed in the middle for a lap or two I soon found myself just hanging onto the back for the most time. Saw a couple near crashes on the corners but we all stayed upright. I lost my back wheel once in a corner on the last lap but my tire grabbed the pavement when it came back down. It's always been a fear of crashing that has kept me from racing but having just had a birthday I felt like I wanted to try it out so I'd have no regrets.
I'm so happy to have done it. I think we did 12 - 15 laps. I finished the half hour long race near the back. At least I didn't get dropped or disqualified unlike a half a dozen guys who burned out. I am definitely going to race again.