Wednesday, October 8, 2008

PART ONE: Jonathan Page Planet Bike Cup weekend

Me with the Wizard's beard on. Photo by Gary Lake.

It seems like all of my posts lately are about events that happened at least a week or two prior to posting! Well, Part 2 is about a few events, some of which happened as little as FOUR DAYS AGO. I know. You’re impressed.

But let’s start back, two weekends ago. The Jonathan Page Cup (my cup runneth over). Cale and I had just gotten in on Friday night from Las Vegas. Early the next morning, we packed up the car, along with Lizann and Jason in the back, and headed for Madison. A note on the car: it was truly packed. In the back, Jason and Lizann had all of their camping gear on the seat with them (pillows, sleeping bags, food) and there were wheels covering every surface. The backseat couldn’t have been too fun, but they bore it admirably.

To get on with it, though. This would be my first race as a Cat 3 racer. I was a little nervous, but not ‘road racing nervous.’ I didn’t know what to expect from myself, so I was aiming for a good race and not a win. It’s easier to stay calm with an outlook like that. I told Josh (aka the Wizard) that I was just going to ride: start out slow and see how many people I could pick off. At the end of my race, Josh commented, “You did just what you said you were going to do.” I started out pretty much at the back of the pack and worked my way through a few ladies that were slow in the corners early on in the first lap or so.

From then on out, I would pretty much follow behind someone and then work to pass them on one of the many hills on the course. I did this because I’m pretty strong at sprints up hills, and to a lesser extent, because it was exciting and fun to pass people in front of the crowd and my spectating teammates. Yep, I’m pretty much a preening, showboating little jerk. In my defense, I didn’t yell “Oh Snap!” or spit on any opponents. So I’ve got that going for me.

I had made it past a few people in the beginning, and then worked my way past a few clusters of women in the ensuing laps, and I had reached a point where I was no longer passing anyone. I played cat and mouse with one lady for a lap or two, and finally with one lap to go I put her behind me and worked to keep her there. She hung back maybe 10 or 20 yards, and I managed to stay ahead, finishing just in front of her.
It was a good race- I had warmed up and felt strong early on, and only got dog tired on the last ½ lap, which is when you want to feel that, if you must. When people asked how I had done, I just told them it was a good race, not knowing how I had finished. When results came up, I found out that I had won!

Believe it or not, winning the race turned out to be kind of terrible. The next day I ‘knew’ how I ‘should’ finish, so I proceeded to get very nervous. Before the race I had incredible cotton mouth and a kind of depression settled on me. I got really quiet, felt sluggish and heavy, and was dreading the race. I tried to calm myself down by saying that I would do the same race again.

So I started out in the back, feeling miserable. I didn’t get around some of the women fast enough, and their lack of speed in the corners and the first bit of the race left me pretty far behind the lead riders. I rode on, but with less and less hope every time I caught sight of the lead, so far ahead now. Eventually I stopped racing and was just riding along, being angry at Cale for ‘making’ me race (even though that’s usually the thing to do). I fell on my back in one of the dusty corners on the side of the hill. I just stayed there and let out an “AAARGGH!” before getting up and stalking up the rest of the hill with my bike.

Shortly after that I got so discouraged and angry that I started hyperventilating, which I did off and on for two laps. Yippee! So much fun. Nothing else really happened- after the first lap or so, I didn’t pass anyone and stayed firmly in 6th place, where I finished. I was angry and frustrated with myself. I was especially frustrated that cyclocross seemed to be going the same way as road racing: how many more races can I get in before I just mentally break down and can’t do any more?

Josh as the Wizard. Photo by Gary Lake.

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