Rather than reply with the world’s longest comment…
August 5, 2007 § Leave a comment
Yeah, I finished Fort Ord. No, it wasn’t pretty.
At this point in my cycling “career” (Can I call it that, even though I’m not anywhere near making money for it and quite possibly never will? And if not, does that mean I can’t someday “retire”?), I race these long road races mostly for training. That’s not to say that I don’t want to be a factor or be able to help my team, ’cause I do, it’s just that between working forty hours a week and commuting ten hours a week (sans bike, thanks to the stupid rules governing the Bay Bridge and BART), and sunsets that get earlier and earlier from here on out, I just plain can’t make the time right now to train enough to be fit for these things. There must be a way and I’m already plotting to be able to do it next year, but for now a thirteen-hour week is really hard core for me; I won’t add extra bore by discussing the “quality” of my workouts.
So I pay my entry fee and shell out for a hotel and gas so that I’m guaranteed to show up and “race” in the hopes that one days the miles I ride in these races catch up with me and I find myself at the finish line right with the group, instead of fifteen minutes after them. I know it’s possible, ’cause I did it at Merco, but I’ll be damned if I know where that fitness went.
Out went the lion and in trips the lamb.
Anyway, yesterday I showed up way too early, waited for 20 minutes in the fog outside of the gas-station bathroom we were all using because the port-a-potties hadn’t been delivered on time, pulled on the extra clothes I’d thankfully thought to bring with me, got a moment to chat with Olaf (always a good way to start a race) and got to racing. Incredibly, I felt really good, and spent a little time at the front on the first lap, with Holly, who is always willing to go to the front and set the pace when everyone else wants to draft. I figure that the beginning of a race is my chance to try and take some pressure off my teammates, since I have no idea how long I’ll be able to fight it out. The first time up the hill I got gapped near the top, but definitely made it further with the group than I’d expected, and I was able to chase back on. I spun one gear too low for the rest of the lap, ate and realized that I actually felt pretty strong. So far so good.
The second time up the hill I made sure I was the first person through the turn so that I could sag the hell out of the climb. This time I was gapped about halfway up and just could not get myself going enough to get back on by the top; my legs felt like dead weight and as I chased across the top and down the hill I couldn’t get my speed up to where it had been the last time. A rider who had flatted passed me with some encouraging words and I tried to get her wheel, but couldn’t make it to her. She scooped up another straggler just a little way in front of me and made it back to the group (good for them), and I chased as hard as I could but couldn’t decrease my standard 500m gap to the field — so close, but just out of reach, and just a little wicked to know that I’m going the same speed but working much harder — until the turnaround, at which point the tailwind carried them completely out of range.
So I stuck it out for the rest of the race, knowing that I’d be destroyed today either way and that I need the training, and actually had a good time. After the third lap I did officially stop chasing, but I didn’t go easy and I almost learned to like that climb (except on the fifth lap when it somehow got the soundtrack to The Phantom of the Opera stuck in my head — if I have to hear “All I Ask of You” one more time…). I didn’t let myself get frustrated or discouraged the way I usually do. My teammies waited at the line for me with news of the victory (hell yeah!), and I can at least pretend that I had a hand in it thanks to the early-race pull. And I got better training that I would have had at home, and it’s gotta pay off some day. And I’m still doing mostly keeping a positive attitude about the thing.
But damn, did that hurt.