Saturday, July 3, 2010

Pre-Race Jitters

Seriously, why do I still have mini panic attacks before a race? Especially Twin Sizzler, for the love of Pete! I keep telling myself, this is the most disorganized ride all year:
  • There's no official timing, results and standings are simply the order in which you reach the finish line, and even then aren't always accurate.
  • The course is weird. Motorists have no idea there's a race going on, road conditions are atrocious, the final sprint is over a set of deeply-rutted tracks. One year I got stopped by a train.
  • The rules are subjective. Riders hop on to any pack they can catch and hold, regardless of category. I've watched groups of riders centerline on the busiest streets - risky and dangerous, and would result in instant disqualification in a 'real' race, if anyone were actually paying attention.
  • And the award ceremony is at least an hour after the last cyclist crosses the finish, at which time everybody has already gone home, showered, napped, fired up the grill, and cracked open their first beer. Not to mention that awards are handed out in no particular order among all the runners and cyclists and ages and sexes...
And yet, I kinda like this race.

Already I have all my stuff laid out, ready to leave at 6-ish tomorrow morning. I got some last-minute repairs done today (thanks, Randy!), and I've got a race strategy.

For the first time in my life, I'll actually be riding with other girls, as a TEAM. A bunch of us Grunt Girls all signed up for the Expert category, and we plan on working together tomorrow.

Which gives me something brand new to stress out about:

How do we ride as a team?

Luckily for me, I've got the expertise of some of the other girls to fall back on. Even though we've never raced together before, I'm sure we'll do just fine and have a lot of fun doing it. (Of course, it would be great to have the GGR team make a solid first showing).

I can obsess about race tactics -- how long to take a pull, what to do if someone is hanging on to the back, how to respond to an attack, etc. -- but I've set that all aside for now.

That kind of stuff is what makes me really nervous. REALLY nervous.

So, I fall back on my own strategy: Set a goal.

In this case, my goal is to finish in 1:13:00 or better. (That's my race record, from 2007. See, I AM obsessed!).

Having a race goal allows me to push myself hard, work with my teammates efficiently, and not really worry about my standing in the pack. Hell, I could come in dead last in my category, but if I meet my goal, standings don't matter (they don't matter anyway - see bulleted list, above).

So there you have it: a cure for the pre-race jitters, and a reason to ride my bike as though I stole it.

Can't wait for tomorrow!

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