I've registered for the O.C. Classic race at Santiago Oaks. It's very nearly the perfect first race. It's practically in my back yard, and it's just two weeks away: enough time to get out and pre-ride the course so I don't make any stupid navigation blunders, but not enough time to actually train, or build expectations. I really can just show up and see what happens.
My one and only goal is not to DNF. My "stretch goal" is not to finish DFL.
The course is 7.3 miles, with about 1,300ft of climbing, and I'll be doing two laps. The race starts at 8:00 AM, and ends at 10:15 AM, so a 6.4mph average gets me in under the cutoff. I feel sure I can do that.
A look at last year's results tells me I need to keep my laps around 50 minutes to finish with the pack. That's an average speed of about 8.8mph, which I think should be doable. (Judging by recent rides.)
My recent ride in Santiago Oaks was 14.8mi with 2,700ft of climbing, and my moving time was 1:54:20, for an average speed of 7.8 mph. That'll put me in DFL, but still ahead of DNF.
So, I'll try to do a few solid rides between now and race day, rest up the last few days of next week, and concentrate on simply staying on pace and finishing under the cutoff.