While in graduate school I was traumatized by a labmate’s constant road rash and watching a nasty pileup during the men’s pro Twilight criterium in Athens. I couldn’t see the joy. And yet I started riding and found my athletic spirit on the bike. Short rides around town were insufficient, especially after hearing about the RAAM team during my first Sorella meeting. This year I took the plunge and applied to race on the Allegro team, Sorella’s team specifically meant to support women, regardless of age or discipline, who are newer to racing.
I finished my first races in the Tour of North Georgia (TONGA) and accomplished my goals of finishing and learning to better prepare for future races. For anyone else that wants to know what racing for the first time feels like- here’s my perspective.
TONGA is a local daytime race in a small town. I was nervous and showed up early to give myself plenty of time to prep and warm up. In some ways, it felt more like showing up to ride a supported century with packet pickup and instructions. There were no floodlights and large crowds of big races I’d seen as a spectator so that settled some of my nerves.
My first race was a circuit course with all women starting together. While I knew we all had different goals for ourselves, I realized I could not keep up with the cat 1-3 women when a gap developed during the first climb. I was still with a few other riders who worked together, including fellow Sorella Diane Schleicher. While the group broke apart by the end of the race, I was thrilled that I ended up finishing earlier than others, including a racer that rides with people I’ve considered above my league.