Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Bike Racing

I'm not a fast person. I never have been. My family has a long running joke about an incident that happened to me in Tee Ball. I was on second base when the batter hit the ball straight up the middle, right past the pitcher. The shortstop ran over to second base and fielded the ball - at which point he decided it was too late to get the runner at first. So, he started running me down - and caught me before I reached third base. I had a 45 ft. head start in a 90 ft race, and lost. That was 20 years ago, and really not much has changed. I'm an endurance athlete, not a sprinter.
Next month, I'm planning on racing the Bulldog bike race. Actually, there's a good chance that I might skip it in favor of a more appropriate training opportunity - but I'm probably going to do another bike race at some point during this season. Regardless, I don't know how to race a bike. I don't really know how to race anything. Sure I watch the Tour every July - I know the concept, but to put it into practice is completely different.
My strategy on the bike has always been "push hard until I feel like puking, and hope everyone else cracks first". It works OK in triathlon and in time trials, but in a real bike race you need a more sophisticated race plan. I'm a Category 5 cyclist, which pretty much means I have a pulse. I think I could qualify for Cat 4 if I was interested - but I need that kind of validation about as much as I need another finishers medal. What this means is that I can expect all the cat 3, 2, 1 and dp/ip's to kick my face in. My hope is to hang on to their wheels as long as possible - and to finish up sometime before all the beer is gone. I don't know if I will have the patience for this though - in my rides with the roadie peleton I usually get antsy, and jump to the front or lead a breakaway. This never works out, as I wear down and then everyone passes me, and I have to spend enormous energy just to hang on. Plus, being in the back of the pack is dangerous - when there is a crash (there's always a crash) then everyone behind it gets involved. I'll be hanging on to the back, which means my odds of being in the crash are high. Roadies don't think anything of a crash, they pick up their bikes and hop back on and deal with the open wounds later. I don't like crashes. I'm pretty sure if my @ss ends up road rashed then my day is done.
My first bike race will be quite a learning experience - and quite humbling as well. I think my goal will be less "podium" and more "certificate of attendance".

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