So yesterday was my second race of the season and part of the CRCA Race Series. It was actually a race clinic that included a “mentored” race. Since I haven’t done a whole lot of road racing (lots of riding, not much racing) I thought the clinic would be a good experience to help learn and practice some tactics and reading the field. At least those were my expectations.

But first, let me back up and say I successfully set my alarm clock and got up on time to make it to the race! I wasn’t about to repeat last weeks error. I was all prepped and ready to go Friday night and was in bed nice and early. I got up a few minutes before my alarm and was out the door with plenty of time to spare. I had prepped my usual Skratch Labs hydration and nutrition and set up my oatmeal for the morning. It was supposed to be a cold morning so I got all my warmest gear together and brought 2 pairs of gloves. One pair of Specialized gloves that had light insulation and windstopper fabric and the other a pair of Castelli CW3.1 winter gloves. Along with this was some Castelli Nanoflex leg warmers, Nanoflex bibs, ¬†Alpha jacket and my neck and toe thingies. I was good do go down to about 32F. I plan on doing a cold weather gear video in the future.

After eating, gearing up and putting the bike in the truck I was off to Central Park. It was a non-eventful ride and there is a surprising amount of free parking at 5:15am on a Saturday morning. I unloaded everything, put my kit on and headed into the park not exactly sure where I was going but I soon saw some other cyclists and followed their lead. Once at the muster point I collected my race numbers, pinned them on and proceeded to the area where the clinic was to be held.

Once everyone was gathered for the clinic, we received a short talk on safety, riding in a pack and some tactics discussion. Once that was over we were to get staged and then perform a neutral roll out where the mentors would give tips etc and then at a set point on the course they would blow the whistle and the race would be on. I for one was looking forward to this neutral roll out as I had zero warm up and my legs were certainly cold. However nothing ever goes to plan right and after we got staged they moved us off course again so the A racers could go by first and then we would follow. But that meant a lot of standing around and while my body was ok temp wise, my hands were starting to get cold. Since it was windy out I wore the windstopper gloves with the light insulation and left the heavier ones back at the truck. This was a mistake that I would soon pay for.

Finally the A racers go by and then we were told we had to wait for the B racers as well. More waiting… Eventually were were able to get back on course but this time we didn’t stage they just said go! We were up to 23mph in a half mile and the speeds just keep increasing from there. Well so much for that neutral warm up, ok I’ll deal. I was happily in the pack until we hit this downhill with a sweeping turn. Now mind you have have never been on the course, and it’s still a little dark out so I take it with caution and get shuffled to the back. That didn’t worry me too much as I was still in contact but this is where my glove choice reared its ugly head. The 30+mph speeds we hit just iced my fingers to the point it made it hard to shift and brake. This is not a distraction I need and I was just barely hanging on at this point. That’s when there was a crash inside the main bunch and I finally lost touch as I rode by a few riders on the ground. But that was the beginning of the end for me. My fingers were not getting warmer, I was trying to warm them up under my arms but that wasn’t working and the group was just pulling away from me. I managed to cobble out the first lap, I was about 2 minutes down at that point and decided to pull the plug. Had it not been for my frozen digits I would have toughed it out (and probably not be in the situation in the first place) and finished.

Not really the result I wanted and I certainly don’t like to quit but there was no way I was completing 2 more laps in that condition. But all is not lost, I took this as a learning experience and went out today, in similarly cold weather and tested my kit in case I’m ever faced with similar weather conditions. I used those thicker Castelli gloves, rode for 1.5hrs and didn’t have the slightest chill in my fingers. It’s great to have the gear, you just gotta know when to use it.