Monday, September 12, 2011

Same old ,same old

One thing you can always count on in cross is feeling like you left a lot on the table at the end of every race. Unless your one of the top 5 and even they feel like they could have done something better.  I always make promises that I will ride a lot of singletrack all summer and oh yeah, do a few mountain bike races too. Then there are the training requirements for cross. The explosive first few minutes unlike anything in bike racing except maybe a short prologue, only you have to keep riding for another 50 minutes. The muscular endurance to pedal fast lap after lap in mud and grass and both again combined with hills. And then there is the running and crashing.

And then on top of it all there is the mental aspect. Lets face it, cross is hard and it hurts in unique ways. Your lungs sear, your legs cramp and slow and your arms and lower back starts to get weak. Then on top of that you have to ignore all of that and keep pushing as hard as you can. And often your scared of crashing so you have to stay mentally focused to not only not make mistakes, but also to DO what your brain does NOT want you to do. Like not brake for the barriers or keeping speed over rocks and the muddy pit lined by concrete and wood poles or a scary off camber turn on a descent.

Luckily in cross as long as you don't crash your brains out on lap one or in warm up, you get a boost of adrenaline on the first lap and obstacles or sections you could barely ride in that warm-up become death defying acts of bravery. Not always mind you, some things are just too damn technical for me. Actually most of cross is too technical for me. Some examples of when it works was at Cascade Park last weekend. In warm up after the road section there were some jagged painted rocks that I kept gingerly trying to weave through because one wrong move and you bent a rim and most likely would flat. I kept wondering, how can I go between these at race pace? Also after the mud pit and 180's was the steep muddy hill that lead up to the long straightaway by the river. I was so slow and scared of the approach to it I couldnt go quick enough to ride up it.

Come race time both took care of themselves. Flying up to the rocks I just stayed left by the trees and let the bike fly over the edge, a path I never considered. And on the steep muddy hill? Race pace and wheels to follow allowed me to clear it riding more often than not. But still, in cross for me year in and year out it is always the same. A few spots lost by a bad start, a few more to major bobbles during the race and a few more to crap technical skills and a few more to lack of fitness. Heck, the way I see it if I fixed all of them Id be winning by a lap. Yeah right! Same Old, same old though and I'll keep chipping away at it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Choices, Self Loathing and More

Did you ever have the opportunity to hear "that guy" who makes all the decisions, compromises, sacrifices that makes his life the way it is and then still complains when things don't work out? I call that the ole cliche of "you make the bed, you sleep in it." I really despise that guy, hence, therefore I must hate myself cause I do it all the time now.

Luckily for me my inflated ego doesn't allow me to hate myself that much. I mean I am my own worst critic, but I also am good at making up my own list of excuses. So what sacrifices did I make? Well only one really. I quit training to de-stress my life in 2011 for school and family. But I still did a handful of races. Not one of them with any miles to speak of (excuse list entry).

My life in 2010 was so stressful every day I knew I couldn't do that to myself for another year. I felt at times I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I had the shakes sometimes. b-b-b-bad stuff. Getting my teaching license with full time online school at night and all that that entails, field work for school, working this super, mega, ultra ass kicker of a job working on foreclosed homes, daddy and husband duty and the rest. Something had to give. I chose to give up training.

So every time I raced out came the excuse list. Nothing original: I havent ridden in weeks, I havent done any intervals, my longest ride has been 50 miles - three months ago, I'm gonna get dropped in the first few miles, I'm 5, 7, 8, 10 pounds over weight, yada, yada, yada. I wasnt trying to make excuses really, more managing and lowering to the lowest level possible expectations.

Turns out I placed a lot and won money a lot this year. Bizaare I know. Every time  apologizing to team mates I couldn't do more and trying to explain I just got lucky, I am out of shape. The pre and post race apology lists being used. But I did have my limits. I have no recovery. I literally need a week to recover from one race and if I race or ride hard again in two days I can feel it big time. I cant climb very well and my top end power is non existent. Oops, there I go again with the self deprecation. See it is annoying isn't it?

So anyways I learned I still love racing my bike this year. So with student teaching this fall, Praxis tests to get my license coming up in a few months I hope to have a "normal" life sometime in 2012. With that a new beginning is also in order I think. I have joined my very good friends on the R.R. Donnelley/Spin race team starting with cyclocross and then the 2012 road season. I had a great run with Torelli and then Carbon Racing, but this is a change that comes from the heart as much as from the flames of competition.

Hope to see you all on the cyclocross circuit, you know when I can fit them in between not riding or training. I will have my excuse list for sure and you can tell me to just sleep in my bed cause I made it!!