How's your sprint? Do you even know? How many chances do you get to try different finishes when win or lose you're done until next weekend? Imagine instead sprinting every few minutes for 5 or 6 laps in a race, then resting a few minutes and going at it again. Welcome to Night at the Oval.
Long a staple of the Hawkeye Bicycle Association in Cedar Rapids, Night at the Oval has been sorely missed the last few years. Fortunately this year Goosetown Racing Club has brought the series back to life. "We need more beginner-friendly race opportunities, and this is a very safe and easy venue to set up," said GRC's Larry Howe.
Riding in a group means drafting, riding close to others to save energy. It takes practice, balancing safety, comfort, and speed. But it really isn't difficult: ride smoothly and predictably, anticipate others, guard your front wheel, and relax.
Fortunately Night at the Oval offers a perfect chance to practice pack riding skills. Racers are staged in appropriate skill levels, and as CRANDIC Racing Club's Rob McKillip explains: "The track is huge. There is a ton of space. Get in the pack if you're comfortable. If not, sit at the back, or even attack and try to time trial away. Either way, it's a safe way to have fun and get a killer workout."
Before I ever raced a bike, a criterium-racer buddy thoughtfully explained to me that "time trials are for fat old guys who still want to race." As a 30-something-year-old wannabe who outweighed him by 30 pounds, his assessment made me wonder. Years passed, I came to love time trialing, and I often remembered his comment with a smile. But I also realized just how wrong he was: time trials are for everyone, and pretty much any racer can learn and grow from the "race of truth."
Maybe if you cross country ski, and you have the time and money to travel in search of snow, this time of year is pretty straight forward: you train for the Birkie in late February. Or if you've gone over to the dark side, subscribed to Zwift or Sufferfest or some other program, maybe you plan to tough it out on the bike indoor-trainer style. For the rest of us, though, if we're not rocking fatbikes winter often means more running and swimming and looking for ways to stay motivated and get in shape. Lucky for us we have a couple of great events nearby that truly fit the bill.
Register now for the Hawkeye 50k/25k
Like a challenge? Want to take running to a new level? Or just want a big goal to motivate your training? The Hawkeye 50K/25K traverses roads, crushed gravel paths, and some gnarly hiking trails to circle Lake McBride in Solon. On Saturday, April 14, choose one or two trips around the lake and across the spillway for either a 15.5 mile run or a full up 31 mile ultra-marathon -- the only one in the area.
Organized by We Run in North Liberty, the Hawkeye 50k/25k offers beautiful scenery, a supportive and friendly atmosphere, and a unique challenge that could inspire a lot of winter training runs. The race is capped at 250 and often sells out, so register today. Then lace up your shoes and get out there. Top off your preparations with a St. Patrick's Day run (maybe in North Liberty or Des Moines) and a short local trail run the week before (Red Shamrock) and you'll be flying before biking season really even gets going.
Register soon for the Pigman Sprint Triathlon
Registration will open any day now for the 2018 Pigman Sprint Triathlon in Palo. Yes, June 3 does seem a ways away, but it's not unusual for this popular event to sell out fast. Besides, signing up early might help motivate the winter-only swimmers among us.
Pigman is one of the biggest and best triathlons in the Midwest. And as a sprint it's perfect for those of us who only pretend to swim. The swim, run, and transition are all in Pleasant Creek State Park, parking is close and easy, and the race organization is excellent. With a stellar reputation and a field of 750, the level of competition at Pigman is quite high. At the same time it is about as friendly and inviting to beginners as a race could possibly be.
Whether you're out to win your age group or you're just racing to finish, Pigman is a great time. A beautiful park, a well supported event, a big feed afterward, and some of the cutest and most useful trophies you'll ever see. Check out the Big Pig Gig!
Originally published by Goosetown Racing Club