Sunday, September 14, 2008

Off the front...part 1

Theme of the weekend. One positive (more on the positive later), one negative. 50 miles of Coppi on Saturday. 22ish miles of Turkey Day Sunday.

Scott puts it best: We all spent a good portion of the weekend in our own personal pain caves. Personally, I revisited a dark portion of the inner suffering that I have not been to in a while. I was faced with a wall that I've cleared in years prior, but when attempting to clear it on Saturday, I ended up short and hit it face first.

On to Saturday:

Coppi. It was hot, the distance was far, the terrain was brutal, and my strategy was not in my personal best interest. 60 to 80 some guys at the start, we rolled out easy and the first lap went by without any kind of excitement. I looked down and we were averaging around 24 mph (it might have been 22mph, I'm having a hard time remembering). Either way, I was unimpressed with the pace. I saw 11mph on several of the climbs that should have been about twice that. Looking back, this was inexperience with road races and a little too much anticipation. I was antsy for action. On the second lap, on the rise to the left on Slidell Rd (here is a map if you want to follow along) I moved towards the front and upped the pace. I gapped the field (no great feat since we were going 12 mph at the time) and just decided to keep going. Boy genius (listen carefully and you can hear the sarcasm) decided that with over 30 miles to go he was going to go off the front by himself and ride away from the 3 field at Coppi. I stayed away for about 11 to 12 miles, and at one point the pace car yelled back that I had over 2 minutes (I don't think that was right Travis thought at most it was just over a minute). For the first 5 or 6 miles of it, I felt good. I felt strong on the climbs, I was holding decent pace on the flats (there aren't that many flat sections) and I was descending well. The second 5 or 6 was a different story. Doubt stated setting in. I was getting tired. The engine wasn't firing on all cylinders and fatigue was setting in. I was holding decent pace I think, but the climbs got a little harder and I wasn't holding the tuck on the downhills quite as well. I got caught just after the right turn from Shiloh Church Rd to W Old Baltimore Rd. The pack came by, and I fell back into the group. Now the field had whittled down a bit, so there was a little positive spin to that effort. But there I was, 1.5 laps from the finish and right back to where I was a lap ago, in the field, but now I had 11 miles of solo time in my pain cave in the legs...not wise. I stuck it out on the back for another lap, but on the final lap right before the left on Slidell Rd, the legs, mind, and heart said "enough"...I was off the back and on a solo journey of introspection. I remembered at that point a saying that everybody and their mother says regarding bike racing. "Have a purpose for every move you make". What was my purpose for going off the front with 30 miles to go? Dumb. I had nothing left. The climb up the finish was me versus my 27 and the 27 had the best of it. Glad I finished, but not too happy with how the race unfolded. We talked in the beginning of sitting in, watching the front for the first couple of laps and then going with anything that looked promising in the last two laps. Had we (I) followed that plan, I think the outcome could have been different...could have been the same, but at least there may have been more of a chance for it to be different. I guess you learn from those moments of pain and suffering. Anyway, here is what I took out of it:

1) Road races are races of attrition and should not be raced like crits. This is obvious to most, but to me (with only three under my belt in the last three years) this is a hard lesson learned.
2) I don't like road races. Maybe if I was smarter racing them I would...but even then I doubt it.
3) Take more water and food next time. I had two bottle and I could have used at least one more. Also, food that is easier to get at then a power bar would be nice.
4) Those thoughts you get when you're off the back ("I hate cycling"..."this is stupid, why am I doing this?"..."who am I kidding, I'm better at sitting on the couch drinking beer anyway") are just for that moment. That negative-ness will pass.

Oh well, chalk that one up as a "don't do that again" moment. I told Scott to remind me of that moment next time I start talking about doing a road race. Remind me of the suffering and then I can ask myself if I want to put myself through that again. I probably will, but hopefully I'll reread this at some point in the future and I'll have a better plan...

Overall, though, thanks to Coppi for putting on such a race. As hard as it was, having something like that "locally" makes the cycling around here legit.


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