"It never gets any easier. You just go faster." ---Greg Lemond
"Don't buy upgrades. Ride up grades." --- Eddy Merckx
"You drive like shit." ---The Car Whisperer


Superweak (The Death of a Target Race)


Not the letters I was expecting to be writing the day after my race in Evanston as I sit here eating cold fried rice for lunch.

It was supposed to be "My Race." And I was gonna race it "My Way." But right now, "My Way" is just sore and purple and grazed with a bit of angry red rash, (my knee has this great jiggly feeling as I walk) and those accusing, stark letters are now stamped over it. It was my 3rd crash in five weeks. And frankly, I am getting a bit sick of it.

At the line:

But only A Bit Sick of It. Perspective is everything, and when I add it to the mix, I can't help but feel better. I'm not the one with the broken collarbone, or destroyed bike, or ruined uniform. I rode home in a car, not an ambulance. And once there, napped on the couch, then rode back up to watch the pros race with some teammates, and then enjoy a wonderful Nepalese dinner at Mt. Everest with some bandmates. Eventually back home, I fell asleep on the couch to Family Guy reruns, Tour highlights, and about one and half pages of For Whom The Bell Tolls - chapter 3.

But still. I wanted so badly to be in this race. To be at the front, feeling the pain, gritting my teeth, taking my pulls, feeling the satisfaction as I flicked my right elbow and the line came past. But after an interminable wait to begin, I felt it slipping through my fingers as soon as we were rolling. Several riders had trouble clipping in, as teammate Donovan noted (for once it was not me!) and already we trying to bridge up from the start. Just we caught on after the 3rd turn, the first crash split the field at turn 5, and us at the back were scrambling again.

If you look closely, I am waaaay at the back:

I just couldn't get comfortable at all. Getting gapped so early on had me feeling panicked and alone - even though there were others behind me. It was a total regression mentally from last weeks racing. Sunday was much faster than I was prepared for, and nobody was holding a line. The turns weren't actually dangerous, but the race's speed was affecting the inexperienced field, obvious from all the crashes at turn 5. I dodged another one at that same spot about 5 laps later, much closer to me this time, and actually used it to my advantage. So many riders went down, I found myself near the front the only time in the entire race.

It finally got a bit more settled, mentally and physically. I found a strong wheel to suck on, and I was able to accelerate with the pack, instead of after it, and found myself gliding through the turns without worry for once. But it didn't last long.

Barely hanging on:

It happened too fast to describe it other than a Mack rider fell right in front of me at the now infamous Turn 5, and the next thing I know I was somersaulting towards the curb. Afterwards, I was pretty proud of myself for tucking, it probably saved me the broken collarbone (funny, since I was mentally out of sorts for so much more of the race, and such a severe moment I have the sudden clarity). I stood up, realized I was OK, check over my shoulder to make sure nobody was coming, and ran to get my bike, tossed about 20 feet past my landing spot in the middle of the course. Nobody was screaming at me to get out of the way yet, so I grabbed it, and hustled to the curb.

Turn 5, through the eyes of xXx teammate Luke Seemann:

The wheel was a twisted mess, so I carried it along the barricades, running as fast as I could toward the wheelpit, looking for an opening in the barricades, cleats clicking on the concrete. After what seemed an eternity (in reality, the pack only made one pass) I got past all the staring eyes and spectators lazily getting out my frantic path. I received my SRAM wheel and had my headset straightened, and jumped back into the pack for the 2nd time of my Superweek. Actually I got onto a group off the back trying to bridge up, Alberto at back, yelling for me to get his wheel, get his wheel.

But it was futile. I kept hearing a worrisome clicking noise (coming from my fork?!?), was unable to concentrate fully, and I fell farther behind on each turn, working harder to erase each gap that materialized. It was just too fast. Two laps after jumping back in, I got gapped for good, and as they disappeared behind the next turn, I pulled off, alone, with 8 laps to go.

I walked over to Fountain Square and found several teammates and friends commiserating and Luke taking pictures. I hadn't even thought about it yet, but he circled me and informed me that my brand new kit was still in good shape. Ironically, as healthy as I came out of the crash, that would've been the most distressing part of the day, had that been ruined. Or so I can say now. We watched the finish together, and celebrated 3 teammates in the Top Ten. No to mention all the others that finished. Quite a feat when you consider only 41 out of a field of 75 even finished.

Afterwards, with Rick:

Stacy and the wheel:

Later that evening, the pros were carving lines like an artist etches glass:

As I said, perspective puts everything in place. I don't want to say I could've had lower expectations, and I was still justified in making this my target race, but I should have realized this race was going to be a bit more than I was going to be able to swallow. This is Superweek, after all. The biggest event on the Midwest racing calendar. And a lot of riders, who have been racing a lot longer than me were targeting it, too. This race especially. It was an inaugural event, the course was tight, technical, and exciting. The best of each category were there.

This is my first season, and I haven't begun to put in the needed training to race at this level. I joined the team in April, after a winter of performing with two bands, traveling to Europe and training for one 8K race. My only off-season base miles were Bike Winter commuting, and I had never pushed myself to the level on the bike that I am doing regularly now.

So I am not looking back on this disappointing finish with, forgive me, disappointment, but rather, anticipation. To finish my last race of the season. To take a couple months off to play music (The Midnight Shows got a Cleveland House of Blue gig in October!) and reflect on what I've accomplished this summer, Sunday notwithstanding. The anticipation of starting at -building a foundation- for the first time, where everyone else who finished the race Sunday began their season.

In the short term, I have one more Superweek race, this Friday in Kenosha. I'm not giving up to try and finish in the money. I could've put a bit more intensity in my training these last two weeks, but with races on Saturday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, I didn't know where I could put it. I have time this week, for physical training and mental. Meditation and visualization is going to be a bigger part of my training. It always is with my music performances. Mentally I could've prepped a lot more for the pace, the communication, paceline work, and just the realization that it was just as hard for everybody else.

I am getting sick of the crashing, however. My left shoulder hasn't been right since the car hit 5 weeks ago, and yesterday's endo did nothing for it. Just when I am able to begin sleeping on my right side again, I can't roll over onto my left side. I am considering completely withdrawing from the Elk Grove race (and it's even tighter turns and homogeneous Cat 5 field) to avoid the possibility of another crash and concentrate on getting one good, 4 week training phase and a rest week in (and maybe a Matteson race) for Sherman Park. I will upgrade for that day's Cat 3/4 race and I want to be strong, healthy and do the best I can.

Tonight, however I'm just gonna rehearse, then get a lot more Hemingway in, over a nip of whiskey and ice cream.

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