This was my first ever "official" bike race. I mean I have biked 50+ miles several times before but I never actually entered a formal event the way I've done for foot races (10Ks, Half Marathons). And in many ways it wasn't really a race - it had riders of all shapes, sizes, speeds and levels with all sorts of bikes.
I found out about the event while hiking the weekend before from a fellow hiker, during a casual conversation. I didn't think I would actually do it (because, I hadn't taken my bike out for a ride in months!). As the week rolled by I completely forgot about it, until it was Saturday night and I was sitting on my couch and suddenly remembered it! At first I thought it was already over on Saturday - but I looked it up and it was on Sunday (next morning). I wasn't sure if they would just let me show up so I went on Facebook and found them and posted a question there. Sure enough someone responded back in a few minutes and said I could just "show up and do it".
And so, there I was on a Sunday morning -- drove 30 miles with my bike in my car, paid up and registered on the spot -- and was all set to do my first ever bike race and first 50 mile ride in almost 6 months or so.
The ride was pretty flat and took us through some interesting neighborhoods. It started in Griffith park and rode along the LA river through central and then South LA. It was very well organized with more rest stops than I (or most people) needed.
I got to the 25mile turnaround point in under 2 hours and was feeling great. A little rest stop and I was on my way back. I was gliding along the bike path with oncoming bikers to my left and the LA river (whatever little water it had) to my right side with the embankment separating me from it. And I was feeling pretty confident I'd be able to finish it off in a couple hours, even before the clouds gave way to the sun -- and that't when out of nowhere I see this ride come out of nowhere into my bike lane and collide with me head on. And since I was on the side of the path closest to the river, the collision sends me flying off my bike and rolling off the embankment. I collected myself (and my two water bottles) and assessed the situation. A bunch of scrapes and bruises and likely a sore side after a days rest but nothing major. The bike was a mess though. Front wheel was a little bent out of shape and tire and tube were busted. Handle bar twisted too.
Spent the next hour fixing up my bike (thanks to the help of the awesome race crew and couple fellow riders) and then rode back the 20 odd miles back to the start line.
Overall it was an interesting experience but I decided I'm going to stick to foot races going forward or at least if I do enter a bike race, enter one that is specifically a "race" and not a "casual ride".
No regrets though - an interesting experience overall