Saturday morning our Ultimate team had a practice in Ault Park. It was a nice, cool, rainy morning, but the drizzle thankfully ended soon after we got there. Lee had us do a couple of drills, which were good...but kind of confusing for us to follow. I think if we did it again, we'd be good. At the end of our time there, he mentioned meeting at 10 rather than 11, so we can actually do the drills and not cut into scrimmage time that starts at 11.
The scrimmage was fun. I started out playing on the team of the others that show up every Saturday, who aren't on our team. It was kind of sucky, because my teammates were all playing together really well and I wanted to be playing with them. I found myself just running randomly around the field again. But then a couple of us switched sides and I got to play with my teammates and it was awesome! I made some plays, handled the disc, did some blocking... it was very fun. By the end, I was pretty tired. No subs! Which really, was great because it was a better workout.
Sunday morning I went to the bike criterium clinic and had a great time. There were probably about 12 to 15 people there. Most had been doing crits, but everyone was very laid back and eager to learn. Coach OB was pretty cool. He started with telling us about cornering: how to shift your weight, the line you should take, and accelerating out of the turn. He had a course marked out with cones in the parking lot and we rode it slow a couple of times. Then he broke off to ride and watch people individually as we did our laps. I found myself gaining more and more confidence on each turn. And the center of gravity adjustments and gear advice helped a lot. It was so much fun. I was told I was looking good, had good form, and took the turns nicely. :) I did have to work on being in the right gear coming out of the turn though.
Other highlights I learned about:
- You ride a crit in the largest ring
- Hand position, always in the drops...but he also talked about a bone in your hand you should rest on rather than the middle of the base of your palm which can make your hands and arms go numb
- Always have bent elbows
- Shifting weight back and hunkering down more helps lower your center of gravity and go around the turn smoother
- Outside leg is down and you can push a little to help with center of gravity also
- You push to steer similarly to how you push to steer on a motorcycle
- The turn starts and ends out wide, and you cut into the middle (assuming that would be possible with the pack)
- Accelerating happens as you come out of the turn (it's very much like other racing principles)
- Being in the right gear coming out of the turn is one of the most important things
After we were done, I talked to Mary and Candy. Mary complimented my jersey, and I had gathered she had done crits before, so I bugged her as she was changing her gear to go on a ride. She was so incredibly nice. I asked her about how one gets into these races. She said even if you don't ride for a team, you can sign up and enter the race. She said that learning to ride in a pack is helpful and told me about some bigger group rides in the area. Candy joined the conversation too and was equally as welcoming and encouraging. It was great!
So, I think criterium racing is something I might try next year. The Madeira and Hyde Park races are next weekend, but I'm in no shape for them. There is one in the beginning of August, but that might be when we go to Seattle. And then the season is pretty much over. We'll see about next year though. If I had so much fun just by myself going around a parking lot today, I'm pretty sure an actual race would be a lot of fun.