Yesterday, I raced in the Univest Cyclosportif 100K in Souderton, PA. While I ride in many events each year, most of them with some competitive component, this is the first true timed, competitive event that I’ve participated in. It rained – no, actually poured, during the entire race. Additionally, there had been a storm the night before and the course was littered with tree braches, pine cones and wet leaves. While many better riders were able to deal with the slick roads and assorted obstacles, I was cautious and liberally applied my brakes on much of the course.
The results? I came in 122nd out of the 219 riders who did the 100K (there was also a 60K ride that had about the same number of riders). I finished in 3:23. Slower than I think I can do the course, but faster than I expected I would. I’m pretty pleased with my performance.
I was really worried about the rain before the race and it certainly affected the way I rode. The thought that there are only two little one-inch square contact patches keeping your body from skidding across the surface of the earth in a corner never really fades too far from one’s thoughts. I also saw three major crashes during the ride and twice passed ambulances going in the opposite direction – ouch. All that said, the weather stopped really bothering me after about five miles. Once you’re soaked, you just can’t get much wetter.
A Cyclosportive is sort of the cycling equivalent of a marathon – a timed event that is very competitive for the top participants and is a race against the clock for most of the others. In cycling, it is sometimes linked with a professional race on the same course, as this one is. The pro event – the Univest Grand Prix – starts three hours after the amateurs start, making sure even the slowest of the non-professionals are off the course before the real racers come through. Watching the pros finish after having raced the course puts ones effort into perspective. Man they’re fast.
It was a great event. I’m really glad I did it and I’m happy how well it turned out for me. Special thanks to my support team – my wonderful wife – for making the long trek to Souderton with me and for helping me navigate the ins-and-outs of a big event and the incredibly bad weather.
Update (9/22/2009): Not that I’m counting or anything, but it turns out that there were 229 riders.