Monday, July 19, 2010

Experience Gained

Cat. 4 racing has been good to me. Yes, there have been successes. Even a victory or two. But it's more than that. There have been adversities and failures that have taught me much more about racing than success ever has.

At the Cornhusker State Games TT last summer, Cat.4 competitors Pete Duryea and Brandon Fenster put the fear of TT discipline in me. More than ever, to be good at time trialing, I realized that I would have to spend time in aero position, in the weight room and beg-borrow-steal better equipment.

At last year's State Road Race Championship, I gained a new appreciation for the skill of sprinting from a pack. Going into the last turn, I was fifth wheel. I finished 16th. Even more, I gained an appreciation for the promoters and race officials who actually put the race together.

Then there was a lesson in humility at this year's Twin Bing Classic. Jumping into a three man break 15 miles into a hilly 45 mile race with prevailing winds proved to be too much. Eight miles from the finish, I cramped and got popped off the back. The ensuing chase group then caught me, but I was too wasted to latch onto them. I finished 8th and learned how strong I wasn't. What a wonderful, miserable race that was. I can't wait to do it next year.

Then there was sweet success at the Capital City Crit. Having never raced in a crit before, I was jittery before the race. A tall coffee with a shot of espresso beforehand may have contributed to the yips, but the truth was that I simply nervous. The mystique vanished when the race got rolling. Carving turns, taking a flier and sprinting for primes proved to be quite a rush. Yes, I learned the thrill of racing there. Finishing second was the exclamation point to fun day of racing.

At the Pioneer's Park Gran Prix, I discovered how not to finish a race. Thinking back to the failure at last year's State Championship Road Race finish, I decided that a sprint from the pack wasn't among my strongest suits. So I worked with Jesse Petersen, Kyle McClellan, Nathan Hicks and Dan Ertz to create a gap from the peleton. It worked. But when it came to the final hill, I attacked early in attempt to ride away from them. It got very quiet near the crest of the hill. Just as I thought the plan worked, I saw cyclists sprinting around me on both sides. Apparently, I learned how to give a text book lead out.

At this year's State TT Championship, I learned how to deal with the adversity of flatting and taking a DNF.

Shortly thereafter, I crashed during a training ride and had to deal with uncertainty while recovering from an injury for the first time.

Finally, there was a lesson in every race of the Omaha Cycling weekend.

It started with the Time Trial, where I missed my start. Warming up near the starting line, I somehow managed to not hear the announcer repeatedly call my name. I'm a knucklehead. Fortunately, with the help of a fantastic set of aero wheels, gratis Bryan Redemske, I still had a strong enough ride to account for the time I had dallied away.

At the Papillion Twilight later that afternoon, I experienced two firsts: tactical racing and overcoming doubt to finish the race strongly. Fellow team members Jonathan Wait, Mike Bartels and Ben Perkins gave us the tactical advantage to control the race. That, and being away when another racer flatted opened up a significant gap between the field and me. As the race progressed, the chase was closing the gap. But as I delved deep within the pain cave, the thought of the Jens Voigt "shut up legs" video that somebody linked to on their blog recently kept coming to mind. Success was ultimately a combination of gritty determination and the help of my teammates, Jens and whoever posted that video.

And then there was the Babcock Memorial race.

From all of this, Cat. 4 racing has served its purpose.

Thanks to all who've contributed to my growth as a cyclist. It's been good racing with you, and I look forward to lining up with you again soon.


  1. Holy crap--I'm going riding in the mountains with this A-CLOWN*? I'm a Cat 5 dropout spotting him 6 years, 50# and will be riding my 1982 Trek Touring Bike to his Madone.

    I must be playing the role of Yaroslav Popovich, George Himcappie Mark Renshaw, Frank Schleck and Crash Davis of setting the pace and tapping out a tempo for el patron.

    Or....I am playing the role of the tortoise to the hare, Daedalus to Icarus or Major---DeCoverly to the whole gang back at Pianosa...

    Irregardless (that was for Brady's pal Brian) jumping to Cat3 in 2 seasons is quite a feat.

  2. Congrats, you accomplished exactly what you should have from racing 4's, successes and failures. Now hurry up and get into the 2's, we need more fire power!

  3. Thanks Jon.

    Hey Murphini, this A*clown will have to spin out the big ring to keep from getting dropped off the back during the steep mountain descents. Tell you what, I won't attack during climbs if you're cool on the way down. But should I drop a chain while cresting and you attack, great suffering will be unleashed.

    Thanks Mod, but I'm anticipating a lot of schooling in Cat 3.

  4. What's all this cat stuff? I thought old ladies and strange single girls were all about cats.


  5. Congrats Brady! Looking forward to racing with you in the future. It will be fun.