Going into my second road race, I was not nearly as nervous as the first, mostly because there were less unknowns and I wasn’t thinking about it as much. Actually, all I was really thinking about the week leading up to the race was homeland security databases until 3:00 in the morning at work. Ok, so maybe I was only at work until 3:00 a.m. one day, but it REALLY throws off your week, and makes it hard to think about anything other than being annoyed and how tired I am.
The race started out pretty easy, and for the most part it stayed pretty easy. A team got a woman in a breakaway, and the rest of her team did the best they could to keep the pace down. They were quite successful, and as I learned after the race, their race strategy worked out perfectly. Ohh so good for you….
A week of proposal writing with weird hours and fast deadlines does not do much for my patience. Sticking in the peloton at a pace I didn’t want to go was not what I wanted to do. The entire race was on roads that I ride quite often, and at one point I looked at my speed and thought I don’t think I have ever gone this slow on this road. I wanted to RACE for 40 miles, I wanted to feel like my legs were going to shoot off my body because I was going so hard. Instead, I felt like I road the stupidest 40 miles ever and that maybe I was totally done with this road racing crap because I need to be in control of my own race. Getting stuck behind another team’s strategy is not for me.
The one point of the race that was actually pretty fun was when I somehow ended up in the front of the peloton. I mentally froze for a second, thinking to myself, What do I do? How fast do I go? What do I do? Why am I here? OMG! I took a breath looked at where I was going, and decided that I should ride this section of road like I have ridden it every time before on this same road. So click click click I down shifted and gently accelerated down the small hill to get some speed to accelerate back up the next roller. Pretty soon there were two other ladies sprinting up alongside of me, I jumped on the wheel of the second lady as she passed, thinking oooo something exciting is happening and I am part of it! But then it seemed that as quickly as it started, it was over and we were all back in the peloton again.
Maybe something like that is what happened on every loop at that particular hill. I have no idea because I was in the back on every other loop. But after that there was definitely a lock down on the speed by the team that had a lady in the breakaway. I wish now that I could tell my past self to go go go, this is your one chance to avoid 45 more minutes of tedious riding! However, I know those ladies would never let anyone go that threatened their breakaway, but at least it would have been an extra few minutes of fun and would have made the team with the breakaway work a little harder for their “perfect race strategy.”
As much as this race made me want to say screw this, I’m mountain biking the rest of the summer, I realize that every race is different, and I suppose I actually learned a lot. And even though I want to be instantly good at this, I realize that the only way I can improve is through more experience, and it really isn’t that much different than my first season of mountain bike races. I dreaded my first Wednesday at Wakefield mountain bike races and mostly hated the entire experience. My main goal at these races was not to be last, and I achieved that, but not by much. Then the next year I came back and somehow won my first race and consistently did well all season. Who would have ever expected that? I sure didn’t. So anyway, I guess I can’t give up quite yet.