Thursday, February 26, 2009
Feed the Disease
I love racing. I haven't done it since IMAZ in November, and it's so much fun! The adrenaline gets you through the 4AM wakeup, then you go through your ritual gear prep, breakfast, and head to the venue. I train because it's fun, I truly enjoy the workouts and I don't think about the races that often. But when race day comes, it's like living someone elses life for a few hours. I feel alive. No more 3 month hiatus's from racing, I need to get out there more - even if they are just training prep for other races.
I participated in the Bulldog bike Race this weekend, and it was lots of fun. This was my first bike race, and quite a learning experience. Some things were expected: drafting, close quarters, accidents, and machismo. Some things were a surprise: all the trash talking, strategy, and d-baggery.
To my surprise, I did OK in the 26 mile race. The first 8 miles are flat, and the whole 100+ rider peleton stayed together and at an easy pace - I even found myself at the front at one point! It was cool to be "winning" a race, but it was really bad strategy - as everyone else was saving their legs for an attack on the upcoming climb. My friend Cory told me later - "If you're going to be dumb, you have to be strong". I agree, and I think that might be my racing style! Riding in the pack was easy (though a bit dangerous) and honestly it got boring. I was chatting with my adopted team (I have lots of friends from the Moment Cycle) and thought the whole race would be nothing but a group ride with a sprint at the end. Wrong. I got dropped like a bad habit on the first climb, which is where all the teams attacked. I lost sight of the leaders, and never saw them again. I hooked up with one of the chase groups and we went pretty hard - we picked up a lot of the stragglers who fell off the lead pack as the race went on. The chase pack was cool, but there were a couple of d-bags in with us. One guy who kept swerving wildly 10 feet or more to the left - he did it deliberately whenever he felt someone was crossing up his rear wheel. What an ass. There was one guy who kept taunting another rider about how poorly he climbed hills - apparently they had a verbal exchange early in the race, and kept jawing for the whole hour. Then there was a weak ass rider from some LA cycling team who kept trying to win with strategy. He would get to the front of the pack and pull for only about 10 seconds, then go hide back in the pack - sometimes skipping his turn up front all together. I decided to punish him a bit by getting behind him and forcing him to take a real pull - he got pissed, doing the roadie elbow wave, which I ignored, and it lead to him getting pretty pissed - which was the point. I kept trying to push the pace by attacking off the front, but even at 32 MPH on the flat stretches the group kept covering all my moves, and we all ended up finishing together.
I raced hard, but not all out. I knew I still had a short run, followed by another 60 minutes on the bike, and a second run scheduled for the day. After the race I put the bike in my car, put on my running shoes and took off. The d-bag cyclist attitude showed itself again, as several people gave me a hard time for running after the race - one guy yelled "if you can still run, then you didn't ride hard enough". It's not a particularly mean comment, it was the way he said it - like he was angry at me for not taking the bike race as seriously as I could have. Funny, I was running past him as he exited the finish chute, after having completed the race, checking the results, chatting with coach, packing my bike away, and changing into running gear. Maybe he's the one who didn't go hard enough?
My results were pretty good (I think). I was 4 minutes behind the winner, and placed 14th (of 24) in my age group, and 105th of 578 overall. If I had gone 2 minutes faster, which I think was easily doable, I would have been in the top 50. Wow, I've never been that high up on the list before - maybe cycling races aren't so bad :)
Bike racing seems much more social than triathlon, which was cool - unfortunately there seems to be a lot of a-holes in the bunch. I'm going to stick with being a triathlete (good people those tri geeks), and I'll venture over to road racing when I need an ego boost :)