Thank you Hannah Clarke

Thank you Hannah Clarke

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Back on the Ontario Cup circuit!

Well there it went! My first O-cup race back! Wicked times! Were they wicked good? I guess so. Wicked painful? Yep. Wicked awesome? Of course!
Woke in a sleeping bag up on a mattress pad in the middle of my room surrounded by bikes. Checked out my new kitchen and pulled out the steel cut oats. Went to the stove, crap. No elements? That's unfortunate. How about the microwave? Surely all is not lost! Nope, I guess we don't have one of those yet either. Hungry, and knowing that it's a good idea to eat breakfast before a race I got a devious idea...The apartment downstairs! Is the door locked? Nope. Are there people sleeping? Yep. After a quick cost-benefit-analysis I decided I had best eat something, so I went downstairs and started cooking. My new housemate Colin woke up too, so I cooked him some breakfast and we had sat in an empty room eating. Good stuff! Looked around the house, made plans and got stoked about the new place!
Upon arrival at Mansfield there were raindrops on the windshield, but nothing big. As soon as we parked I tried to get out of the van, but I was in the back seat. There were child locks. And I had to pee. That was a quick scramble to the bush as soon as I got let out. I then suited up and looked for the Cycle Solutions team tent, dropped off my bag of feeds, and registered for the race. While registering I looked out the window at where I had perched my beautiful new ride, and saw a few people really looking at it! I looked back a minute later and a few more people had gathered! Nice! Sponsorship is deserved! That bike is pretty, and wow she rides well! I walked back out to get my bike and a few guys just kinda walked away awkwardly...hahaha
Then I went over to say hi to my good friends and sometimes major support crew the Batty family. They're basically a family of very talented cyclists. All pros. I had trained with Eric before, and am excited to still be in touch!
I saw a lot of friends before I got to warm up, it was super nice to be back on the circuit! People were really happy to see me back into racing, and I was greeted by smiles all around! I missed these people and the atmosphere here a lot. I had a quick discussion with my coach (who deserves his own full blog post - so he's remaining unnamed for now), and asked if it was good that I didn't feel too strong today. "Well, you're using this one as a training race" Oh, okay. So my legs are supposed to feel the burn really hard this week? Uh huh..Well this year is more of a build year for the future anyway.
This is more my fault than the fault of over training though - I'm running on an average of about 4 hours of sleep a night this whole week, with the move from house to house going on I've been BUSY. This means as I kept training hard, I didn't rest hard, and I fell behind a little bit in where I should be...But that's life! Otherwise it had not rained yet, and I was still quite confident in my abilities!
After a good warm up, I went over to the start line, and my corral was totally full! The guys in my category were all lined up way too early! This meant that I would have a bad seating, which could be detrimental up the first huge hill climb. Luckily I'm pretty sneaky and creative, and realized that as they opened my corral to let everyone go from the holding area to the start line, I could just sneak in through one of the other corral entrances. Sweet. Devious.
The race started, and I went off hard. For about 100m. Then I realized that wow. This was a crazy testosterone driven pace, that I would refuse to keep up the whole way up the first hill, I had 35km to prove my speed in the race, why blow up in the first one? So I held back, pedaling up the hill, still with a searing pain in my legs that I refused to acknowledge. We reached the top, spread out already. I got into the first piece of singletrack on my own, but quickly caught the train right ahead of me, and made passes here and there. But they weren't easy. Would this pace seriously be kept up the whole race? Or is it just the typical way of the senior-expert racers - first lap of testosterone and then settling in? Wow it's been a while. How do you pace? How do you eat? How do I race this brand new bike? Better find that out soon.
I kept pace with the pack on the first lap, keeping an eye on all of the attacks and accelerations and just calmly pedaling my bike along. I noticed some funny things today, firstly I wasn't doing as good of a job of handling my bike as I did while pre-riding, and my chain was dropping without being prompted, and then not shifting back up! That's annoying...Better keep the bike in the big ring...
The first lap was a bit of a mad race, and in the second lap I settled in a little bit, and lap 3 just sucked. By that point I was hardly able to propel myself up any hills. Seriously, I either wanted to throw up or walk, but mostly both. Was this due to poor race diet? Poor fitness? Tired legs? Or some combination thereof. Lap number three was a good time of reflection, I was still passing people, but man I was working. Maybe my expectations of myself are a bit high, considering everything? This is not a good way to think in a race. By lap 3 I was coasting a lot more too, having a sore back from sitting and pedaling through everything without rear suspension, but the new bike railed the trails nicely! Lap four was a sufferfest, and I was in a bit more of a survival mode than the usual last kick that I used to put out. The last stretch of the lap I noticed my buddy coming up behind me. Dave, he's quick. Also Dave is on a 26 inch bike from xprezo, which was a different shade of orange. He ended up catching me, and passing me at the top of the last downhill, after which I just had a flat section and a bit of a chicane course through a field till the finish line. By this point I had realized that I had no power left in my legs, and was content to ride behind him and see what happened.  I guess that I looked too comfortable, because spectators were yelling at me that I was basically being stupid by not passing him. So I did, and we rolled up to the last little straight before the finish line neck in neck.
I don't lose a race at the end like that. That would be just silly. I refuse to lose a position in a final sprint after holding it for so long.
But Dave inched ahead of me coming out of the corner (it's those light little 26 inch wheels! acceleration!)
I had my hands on my bar ends, and cranked my bike into action. I beat him by about 3 inches. Then we collapsed into each other and were given chocolate milk. Race done. wow.
Later my Aunt Kim (who surprised me by showing up at the race!) asked why we rode across the line together hugging, and whether that was allowed? This comment made me smile! I explained the situation, and that I was actually closer to vomiting than winning that sprint, but just got lucky.
Looking forward to continuing my race career, there's nowhere but up to go from here!
It's now 12:30 at night and I have to pack up for a week out on the Bruce Peninsula! Which is exciting, but I just want to sleep!
Photo courtesy of my good friend Carly! Who also had a great race today!

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