Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Lesson Learned

Oooh...2 posts in one week! Exciting times. I was originally going to entitle this post "When It Rains, It Pours" but I decided on "Lesson Learned" because there was a lesson from today and I think upon reflection that I may have grasped it.
Today was the first day since my CL RR that I wasn't feeling crummy about my race performance. This morning, I officially let it go and moved on from my poor showing in my hometown. Today I had short prologue-esque TT intervals scheduled in the morning and a mid-week crit in the evening. As I rolled down the hill from my house this morning and stopped at the first stoplight, there was a person holding a sign on the corner (as there is everyday at that corner). I'm sure you've seen this scene: a person writes some sort of message that is supposed to illicit pity, guilt, or a laugh with the ultimate goal of scoring a few bucks from people stopped at the corner. Today's person had a sign that read "Appreciate what you have and don't take it for granted." I immediately thought, "Ya dude, you should appreciate that you're healthy enough to be out here enjoying this beautiful day and by the looks of it you're not starving or anything." Little to zero empathy or sympathy from this guy (thumbs pointed inward) when I saw this person this morning. And certainly no inward reflection about the message on his sign.
So, I continued on my ride and I could tell right away that it was going to be good day. I wondered not if, but by how much I would smash my 5' TT power records today. I was engulfed in this train of thought when I noticed my turn was coming up and so took a quick glance over my shoulder and then started to make the left turn going a little faster than usual. Well, there was about a foot wide strip of deep gravel on the edge of the left turn lane that I failed to notice in my daydreaming and my tire slid out immediately when I hit it. I slid to a stop in the middle of the road, cursing before I was even finished sliding. I untangled myself from my bike and my next action was to hurl my bottle at the nearest inanimate object. I just kept saying "I can't believe this" in between expletives. I thought I had wrecked my chances at doing well at Cascade. A nice older gentleman named Ken came to my aid and brought me a first aid kit and water from his car, because by this time I was dripping blood from several different locations. I knew I hadn't broken my collarbone so my attention immediately went to my ribs and hips, two of the initial contact points along with my elbow/forearm. I took a deep breath with no shooting pain so I was pretty certain that I hadn't broken ribs again. I was walking around so the hip couldn't be too bad. But I chose not to appreciate this relative good fortune. All that I could think about was the missed workouts and the possibly hindered state that I would be starting in next week. I changed my tube (sliding along the pavement wore through the sidewall and blew the tube as I was coming to a halt), thanked Ken for caring enough to spring into action to help me, and gingerly climbed aboard my wounded TT bike. As I was limping home, trying to avoid touching the handlebars with the open wounds on my hands, I thought again of the message on the sign at the corner "Appreciate what you have..." I thought about how foolish it was for me to be so upset about not winning my hometown race. After having so many friends and family come to support me and see what I love to do, I chose to focus on my failures rather than how blessed I am to have so many great people in my life. In this, the year of racing that wasn't even supposed to exist for me due to a suspension, I chose to feel angry and wronged somehow by the tactics that were played out 'against' me. Really? This whole friggin season is a gift! I have no right to pout about some lack of result when I was never even planning on pinning a number on this year. Yes, I can be disappointed about not winning and about crashing stupidly on a training ride but I better recognize and acknowledge the good fortune with the bad, otherwise I cross the line and enter into "whiny, self-pity" territory. And there's far too much good going on in my life right now to be hanging out over there.
Oh, and just analyzed my power file: 44.7 kph when I hit the deck. Boy, I forgot how much I missed cleaning wounds in the shower! Where's a bottle of percocet (or scotch) when you need it??

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Bicycle, Blues, and BBQ Festival

I had a great time at the Bicycle, Blues & BBQ Festival in Clear Lake, IA this past weekend. Tim Putnam put on two excellent races and the crowd at the criterium on Saturday night was exceptional. The crit had a very professional feel to it and I think the racers really appreciated all of the hard work and effort that was put in to create the event. I had quite a few racers say to me "Wow, you're from here? This is a cool little town!"
I had me some tasty BBQ brisket and listened to a really talented Blues band, Reverend Raven and the Chain Smoking Altar Boys, on Friday night. I got to see tons of friends and family who live in the area and came out to Clear Lake to watch the races.
The Saturday crit went well, we narrowed the field of 50 down to 7 riders containing teammate Nick Frey and myself with a few early attacks. With 10-12 laps to go, I attacked hard and the other 5 riders responded but then Nick counter-attacked and went solo for the win. It was a good day and everything worked well...though I should have worked harder to get on the podium.
In the road race, I was feeling good and very motivated to win. It was a frustrating race because there were a lot of talented, strong riders in the field but they all seemed to be waiting and reacting rather than racing. That's fine, I can totally understand their reasoning but I let myself get frustrated (and a little bored) and so attacked solo with about 45 miles remaining in an 82 mile RR. I really thought that as good as I was feeling that day they would never see me again. First mistake: pride/ego. The field worked well together and kept me within 30" for about an hour. I finally gave up the fight with 15 miles remaining since my back was tightening up badly and I was completely out of water. As soon as the field caught me, there were numerous counter-attacks but the majority of the field was still happy to sit in rather than race for the win. And then I started to feel sorry for myself thinking about how thirsty I was and how I was starting to cramp up and blah, blah, blah. I took it upon myself to keep the breakaways close to give Nick a chance at the sprint but I really didn't fight for the win. In a way, I just gave in to the whiny voices in my head. I'm really not proud of the way that I raced the last 10 miles of that RR. Looking back, I think that if I would have continued to fight and attack, I may have changed the outcome. As it was, Nick sprinted for 3rd and I didn't even contest the sprint due to being boxed in and then having someone pull out of his pedal right next to me. Congratulations to FasCat athlete Gregg Brandt who placed 2nd in the crit and won the road race in an exciting sprint! I'm disappointed in the race but mostly due to the mistakes I made. If I am fortunate enough to come back next year (which I really hope my schedule allows) I will just hope and pray for 30 mph winds in that road race!
Anyway, it was a great weekend of racing and I had a blast. Plus, I was reminded of how hard this sport is at this level and that you have to keep fighting no matter what. A big thank you to Tim Putnam, Monson and Sons and all of the other great sponsors who helped create the event.
Now it's on to the Boise Twilight and the Cascade Cycling Classic. I've never done the Boise Twilight but I've heard it's a fun race with a good atmosphere as well. And of course, I love going back to Cascade for the beautiful courses and to see how big the Sheasby kids have gotten. ;-)