Firsts are Special

(This is an essay by Christina Hashimoto on her first experience bike racing.  She is a 14 year old Velo Bella and this is what she wrote about racing at Sea Otter this year…..)

Firsts are SpecialSea Otter Classic, my first cycling race, was a great experience to start racing,although I did not realize how large of an event I was attending. I had the opportunity to see other cyclists from other states and young kids similar to myself, who were enjoying working together as a team to achieve their goals. Not knowing anyone I was racing against, I found others who were similar in speed to me who I drafted off and worked with which ended up being a great first experience. The Road Race was different from the Circuit Race because our group split up into many small groups. Practicing the course before the Road Race had helped me very much so I knew what to expect.A motorcycle led our group and I found a group of girls to draft off. On the last hill approaching the finish line, everyone was tired. The girl racing closest to me had helped pace me at a good speed andwas tired on the last hill. I passed her and almost caught up to another girl farther ahead. This girl and I ended up racing to the finish linewhere she finished just two seconds ahead of me. I had a great experience on the twenty-three mile road race. I had great support from my family, friends, and spectators throughout the race which was encouraging. I not only learned a lot about racing, but the race helped me understand what cyclists havebeen teaching me. I had an opportunity to see teams work together and to see kids close to my own age racing, although I wasone of the youngest.At the end of my race, we saw the junior boys Road Race finish which was amazing to watch.Racing at the Sea Otter Classic was an experience I will never forget and I hope to race again in the future.

Other than racing, seeing all of the road bikes was a fun experience, and seeing the different types of bikes was amazing. I enjoyed watching the varieties of mountain biking and the incredible things that people were doing with the bikes. Seeing the junior group was very exciting because I am used to riding with adults who are very helpful and supportive; a special thank you to Gordon and Sue Martine and the Velo Bella group. They have helped me get to where I am now, and I thank everyone for their help. Attending this huge event, I saw lots of awesome things, but participating in races at the Sea Otter Classic was the most exciting and memorable cycling experience.