June 23, day 29, 7th race wake-up, event #9. Small change for many of our stripes, big doings for this guy. In fact, probably haven’t put forth this sustained of a competitive effort… well, ever.
Days 1-3 almost didn’t happen after a commuter bike crash in the rain a couple days prior. A huge hematoma and what my wife now suspects was a possible cracked pelvis had me hobbled and wincing with any weight bearing but mostly pain free when pedaling. In spite of that, things went well inMinnesota (read about that here http://comingbackbetter.wordpress.com/2012/06/06/northern-exposure/). I was smart and took an extra day off work to recuperate from racing and driving. Good thing, spent the balance of the week dragging tail.
Days 8-9 were Elkhorn Valley Cycling home team time with the Maskenthine Psycowpath event and Norfolk Cycling Classic aka Nebraska State Criterium Championship. A bit ashamed to confess that my motivation was not much above empty for our team’s efforts – the previous weekend was taking its toll. I never found a rhythm on the singletrack and made the mental mistake of trying to catch the guys that were in-sight early on – I’m a better pacer than chaser. Lost the front wheel in some loose pine refuse and painfully exacerbated the hip/pelvis injury. Other than climbing relatively well, the output was pure blah, and the ride home full of doubt as to whether I should be doing this race thing. Sunday’s pavement goal was pack finishes – nothing more, but came up less. Got spun off the back about 15 minutes into the Master’s event and in the 4 race, found out just how tough Leah Kleager is as I repeatedly watched her fly up the outside of the finish stretch trying to break the field for her teammates – huge amount of respect for her abibilities. I’m man enough to admit, she made me hurt, several times. Hung in until the big surge with a few laps to go before drifting into solitude. Disappointing, but it’s all relative. I was able to jump back in the Master’s pack when they lapped me and finish there – not so last year – and stuck with the 4′s about the same as I had in the Waconia crit a few weeks earlier, so no ground lost.
Day 15, passed up the opportunity to hit up IORCA’s stop in Ida Grove – too old and too tired to go 3 in a row. Buddy, on the other hand was not. He made the trip and a big statement with a resounding win over the Sport field. Day 16, decide it can’t hurt to do an endurance paced mountain ride and actually do some skills work. Hmmm, something clicks in those 2 hours atStoneState Park– a little dirt therapy is good for the soul.
Day 22, after an evening and overnight of perfect weather at Ponca’s Revenge base camp with a number of other race enthusiasts, my motivation is amped up. Have to admit, I’m still wearing a big dumb smile from this one – although the mud has been washed off. Talk about man-child time: getting really dirty without damaging trail, WIN! And, mentally, I nailed my plan: high even-paced tempo, punch the climbs, ride MY race – no one else’s. The only hitch, a broken chain the last time up the Blood Root climb. First race mechanical + nearly 30 years since the last time futzing with a chain tool and links back in the BMX days = 8 minute delay (yes, I timed it). Lost my flow and 1 finish spot, but came away satisfied with the day – especially the part where my Cat 2 kid who started with a 2 minute offset, caught me and a few other Experts, went on to echo his Ida Grove pronouncement, and stamped his Cat 1 ticket – nice! A new KOM in the household – you’ll look good in polka Dots, Bud.
Day 29, Nebraska State Road Race Championships, 57 miles, longest road race to date. Nothing to prove here but teamwork on behalf of Rich Anderson and Colby Turpin, EVCC’s Husker representatives in Cat 4. Spent a good amount of time performing patrol duty on the front. Sat on the back when the pack chased first, Rich’s break, and then Buddy’s. Lost contact on the last ascent of the climb out ofSouth Bend, chased back on with a few folks through the headwind section, and slid off the back again with the tailwind. Felt good about picking up a spot, dropping some of my chase compadres, and helping slingshot the aforementionedAndersonand Turpin back forward at the finish. A good day’s work, in my book followed by some good food, good beer, good ice cream, and the best company, right, Dora Houts?!
That puts a cap on the season’s intense push, and by far, the majority of 2012’s races. Lessons learned:
- Back to back multi-day weekends are too much for this rider. Perhaps next year I’ll be able to contain my enthusiasm and pick just 2-3 big events to key on.
- Compression socks are good. Gotta take care of the legs if you’re going to take care of business.
- I’m in the right place category-wise – no where near an upgrade to 3 on the road, bottom-side of 1 is correct in the dirt.
- More vacation days would be nice.
From here, it looks like 1 or 2 more road weekends, a similar number of mountain bike events, and the season’s big payoff: the Dakota 5-O.