Friday, August 22, 2014
Back to real life. I'm sitting inside, on a rainy Friday, I'm pretty damn bored, feeling kinda fat, lazy, and lethargic. I haven't ridden my bike since Sunday, when I raced the Hampshire 100. I could come up with a million excuses to try and justify my laziness, but I've kinda come to conclusion that maybe I've earned a bit of lazy. A few weeks ago I was thinking that all Tour Divide aches, pains, and exhaustion had worn off, but the truth is, between the tour, and going back to climbing trees for a living, I only rested for a couple of days, and then shortly after continued training for more races. I began lining up races for the rest of the season, and jumped at the Hampshire 100 first to lock in a reduced price entry.
The closer it got, the less psyched I was to be going to the race. My chain rings were destroyed from TD, and I had my race bike built single speed when I signed up, and I normally race SS, so I didn't hesitate entering SS Open. Lately, I have really been enjoying riding my squishy full suspension all mountain bike, but I knew I needed time on the race bike. It felt like a chore every time I went out to ride it, because I mentally had myself in this place where I "need to train," so I would do hill repeats, intervals, and just generally try to beat myself up. At the end of the ride I wasn't coming back thinking "yeah, this is awesome," I was thinking, "man, I'm exhausted, and just want to nap." I also made the idiotic decision to put a rigid fork back on the bike. "It'll mostly be fire roads," I thought, how wrong I was.
I hesitated as long as possible to leave on Saturday. Waking up later the normal, I made a good breakfast and went for an awesome ride on my squshy bike with my best friend, and his sweet new bike. We didn't set any speed records, but that wasn't the point of the ride. It was a blast! When I got back to the house I started packing things up to load the truck and head to NH. I got pulled over and ticketed for speeding in one of the B.S. Rt 100 speed traps where they sit at the 35mph sign, and take your speed in the 50mph zone. The fat cop was probably just mad that he was over the weight limit for most carbon race components (or just an asshole). Now angry, I continue the bumpy drive as my GPS takes me on a NH back roads tour. I finally arrive at the race venue, but I cant park where I'm supposed to camp, because the 100 mile camping is behind the race course they have set up for short course XC and cyclocross, which is currently racing. I park in 100K parking, and for some reason felt compelled to carry my camping equipment across the field to camp, rather than just setting up in the 100K camping. While registering, I'm given a map, and cues or turns, feed stations, etc. I didn't bring a GPS or cyclocomputer because I don't ride with that stuff. All I can think is "Am I responsible for navigation?!? I never got a .gpx file! I lost my computer on Fleecer Ridge, and never got another one!" I ask about navigation, and course markings and the only response I seem to get is, "It won't be bad, you'll find your way, just keep the map in case you get lost." Thankfully all of this was just wasted energy as the course was marked extremely well.
Sunday, I rode like poo. I should be used to this by now, but when they say "Line up by the banner," when racing open/pro/elite/anyclasspeopleshowuptowithintentofwinning it means that, if you want to be in the back of the pack, line up by the banner, if you want to be near the front, ignore what the race officials say, and barge another 200 feet forward. In similar fashion to SingleSpeed-A-Palooza, I pushed my way forward, until the pushing back got to strong to fight. I was still about 60 riders back, and quickly lost sight of the leaders, and mentally settled for setting pace with others around me. I was completely spun out on the flats, and waiting for climbs to start taking back positions. The fast start quickly became single track, and my rigid fork decision came to haunt my wrists and elbows quickly. Clearly laziness had overcome training in the past few weeks, as I began cramping WAY to early. It wasn't just my legs, My shoulders and back spazzed regularly. I tried to chug as much water and HEED as I could, with the frequent feed stations. The length of the race I never stopped more than 30 seconds, the longest stop being a pee break in the woods, because everywhere it was smooth enough to pee off the bike, I felt like I would be put on a sex offender list for trying to pee off a bike through a semi-residential neighborhood. I crossed the line in 9h50m30SOMEs. 6th in SingleSpeed, 18th Overall for 100 mile. I wasn't happy. Between the expensive entry, the drive, and now the speeding ticket, financially, I was really hoping to podium, to try and help reduce the cost at least a little. I don't race expecting to make money, but this was certainly the most expensive single day race events I have ever done. The worst part was after the race, I couldn't stop cramping. I hung out for about 2 hours or so, trying to relax, stretch, and replenish some electrolytes, but the 3 hour drive home was still brutal. Overall, the race was very well organized, and a great event, I just wasn't in the right place mentally to enjoy it, or the right place physically to do well.
My plan was to race every weekend until October. This race changed that plan. I'm burned out on racing. I hate the word training, I ride my bikes for fun, yet somehow, most rides have become "training." I was looking forward to racing enduro this season, but I think for now I'll stick to just riding. Making the drive each weekend is a gamble of meeting a bunch of great friends at the race, or driving, camping, and riding alone for the whole weekend. The remainder of this summer, and this fall, my goal with riding is to get it back to fun, just for fun. I want to be excited to go for my after work ride, and be stoked on my weekend riding plans again. Yes, I still have a competitive drive, and I am still extremely driven to race Cloudride 1000 in Australia in April. I have all winter to prep for that, and there will be plenty of cold, bitter days to put my roadie on a trainer and "train."
Going "pro" has been a thought in my mind for a while now. Sure, I can race "pro" at local races and finish mid pack or so. The truth of the matter is that I will never be a paid athlete. I will continue to strive to race the big boy class, and race for a few hundred bucks rather than another trophy to fill with dust, or medal to fill that desk drawer, but only when it feel like the right thing to do. Riding means too much to me to become a chore, like resort skiing has through Patrolling. I plan to spend more time with my camera and less time pounding hills. Hopefully this TD PTSD will wear off in the coming months, and I will be able to focus on regaining strength, and speed.