“Well that was sh*t”
That was my first thought after finishing the crit at Redlands last week. And to be honest, my riding was exactly that. I cruised near the back of the group the whole time, never seeing the front of the race. I took the 9 turns over the 1.6km course with the other stragglers and just never accelerated up to the front.
There are going to be days like this again, and there have been days like this before. It kind of makes you wonder what you’re doing, racing a bicycle. And I got into these thoughts post-Redlands on the flight home.
Let’s do a little recap first.
In the span of a week, 3 of the 8 riders were unable to come to Cali due to reoccurring health issues and a crash, but 5 of us trooped into LA, keen to race the earliest most of us ever have in our season. San Dimas Stage Race includes an uphill TT, road race and crit. Everyone there was gearing to get racing, as it’s the first race for many riders (thank you sunny California!). Ariane and Annie had great TT runs up Glendora Mtn. Liah proved her strength and smarts in positioning at the crit and Annie showed grit while avoiding a car and bouncing pylon in the last couple laps of the crit (I got to watch from behind as a rider dinged the pylon which caused it to spring into the air and bounce across the road, almost taking out Annie).
I would also like to mention our newest young rider, Camden. He had his first race and was exceptional! He handled the race pressure well and finished with such a big smile. He also did not want to stop 🙂
We headed further inland to Redlands where roads wind through orange and avocado groves and the mountains tower in the distance. It’s truly beautiful country and two of the 3 road races course through, and UP!, giving spectacular views. The 5 stages aren’t a walk in the park, with a final uphill finish at Oak Glen and a race of attrition during the final race, the Sunset Loop, but they definitely help you figure out where you belong in the pack.
The team rode well throughout the week, but we had a seriously tough day on the second road race in Yucaipa (which is where we finish with a 10km climb up to Oak Glen). Emily crashed with a group of ladies and skinned herself good on the right side of her body. She showed me her training file after and she was travelling about 58km/hr at the time! Liah flatted and chased back with all her strength, and my chain snapped in the middle of a climb. When you jump on a spare neutral bike with a seat-post that is a good half foot too short, adrenaline is a funny beast in how it transforms you into a mini (and less green) Hulk on the bike. Not until just before the next downhill did I pause and put the seat up and then jammed it on the rest of the 20km. With all that was unfortunate about that race, it was one of our better performances as a team because we had someone in the front third of the peloton during the race. We belonged!
So remember that bad crit day earlier? Well, it happened, it’s done and now I can learn from it. So why was it terrible for me? I felt nauseous that day, and before I even got to the race course, my head was focused on feeling sick and not on the race ahead. I rode the race without the same aggression and drive that I usually have in most crits. I love the short, fast, closed-course races, but this time I wasn’t on my game and finished with a sense of failure.
Just like the great races define help define your career, so do bad ones. I can look back now and know that focus is such an important factor and that you can train all you want, but mentally you have to be in the zone.
The racing wasn’t all bad. I went in with the goal of BELONGING, and proved to myself that I do fit and can race at this level. It’s going to be a fun season.
Remember to eat, sleep and ride that bike because it’s SPRING (and summer before you know it)!!!
p.s. Shout out to Full Cycle Ottawa, Sako7 sock delivery and the main folk Opus Bikes and The Cyclery!!