Friday, May 2, 2014

Off the back and into the 2014 season!

If the first race of the season is any indication, I'm in for a tough year.

The girls all flew out of the starting gate like racing greyhounds. I thought I was ready for anything, but I didn't expect this. My legs were burning and we had just started the first lap.

I responded, recovered from the initial shock, and took my place near the back of the pack. My coach told me that I should sit in and wait for the right moment to attack. I sat in, alright, but not because it was the plan. I had no choice;  I was hanging on with everything I had.

It's a little frustrating to spend hours and hours in off-season training brutality, only to bust onto the spring racing scene to a resounding yawn. OK, I confess: the last few months I've felt my motivation dying as other competing commitments have begun to heat up. Personally and professionally, there's really just been an awful lot going on lately.*

I mentioned in this blog before that cycling is my sanity, my escape hatch when things get a little too hairy. But when cycling starts to become just another thing in a long list of things I have to do, that's when you know something's gonna give. (Cycling has not become 'just another thing'. Training for races, however, requires an element of dedication and sacrifice that has become a bit less palatable lately. Mainly because I haven't yet figured out how to warp time.)

No excuses. I simply can't afford the focus and determination it takes to excel at this sport right now. And I need to come to grips with that:  this year isn't going to be a repeat of last year, when I had very few bad days on the bike (although the ride with Tim, in Prescott, WI, still weighs heavily on the mind.) This season I figure I'm in for a few surprises, and maybe a (much needed) humility-meter reset.

I'm aware of all this going in, and I'm learning to manage my own expectations.  But I'm not going to stop racing with the intent to win. I'll go out, get humbled, find resolve, come back - hopefully stronger and in a better place, and do it all over again. And maybe I'll still finish at the back of the pack. Or maybe I'll surprise myself.

I approach the turn still in the break pack, but I don't have the best line. The other girls fly past me and I'm once again given the choice of digging in deep to hang on to a wheel, or get spit out the back and into no-man's land for the rest of the race.

It makes me wonder if this is how my race year stacks up: watching the field pull away from me. Should I burn my last match to catch on, or should I sit up and let them go?

My guess is that there will be plenty of opportunities for both those choices, and I'll just have to trust myself to know what to do when I get there.

*I haven't posted anything about this yet, and although I keep telling myself that I should, it's not likely that I will. Bottom line: I'm crew chief for the 4-man Ohio Cycleworks Charities Team. It's my job to get the team and 9 crew members across the country as efficiently as possible, without losing anybody. BIG responsibility. Lots of details to consider. Huge time, energy, and emotional bandwidth requirement. A once in a lifetime experience, and I am looking forward to it.

**UPDATE: Today's race was a helluva lot better than the one featured in this posting.

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