We started with 30, the biggest field of the day. 20 km, 60 laps, 10 sprints. Kurt and I looked at the start list before the race and agreed that my objective should be to finish on-lap. These are the best racers in the country and it’s a big country with former national champions, olympians, world champions, etc.
The race was interrupted by rain right after the half-way sprint so, like (foreign) football, it was a game of two halves. In the first my biggest obstacle was confidence, I was fighting the thought that I shouldn’t be here, that I wasn’t up to it and didn’t belong: a try-hard wannabe play-pretending among seriously good athletes. But I kept with the bunch, riding on the back a lot.
In the second half I felt much better. I felt well within my physical limits although the pace was faster (31.0mph average versus 29.6) and didn’t let up. I could see I was stronger than several others, having to move up to make sure I didn’t get stuck behind other riders’ gaps. There were 6 DNFs, more than any other race. I really enjoyed it. I felt in control and capable. I didn’t attempt to get any points but in the end I should have ridden hard for the last two laps to get higher up the order of finish of the 8 no-point finishers, I didn’t think of it at the time and just slowed down like the others did on the last lap.
So while I was annoyed by the rain interruption, specifically I was looking forward to my beer during the first half and it was delayed, it worked out for me. I now have some objective evidence that boosts confidence: I raced the points race at the masters national level and I wasn’t out of my depth; peloton padding, maybe, but able to stay with it when others were not. And I wasn’t just hanging on because I would not have finished on lap—when the peloton is shattered by the speed it’s too dangerous to just hang on.
It gives me a baseline to work from, and one that I can have some faith in.