Monday, March 26, 2012

I Get The Jitters

I get the jitters on race days. I get fidgety. My pulse quickens. I break out in a nervous sweat. My mind jumps all over the course, from start to finish, where attacks happen, what corners are railed, where to mash on the pedals, and when and  the sprint to the finish line unfolds.

I’m a wreck.

But the funny thing is, I get the jitters after the race is over, not before. Like, from the moment my head hits the pillow, and for the next three hours of tossing and turning -- every single detail of the race goes through my head. Over and over again.

Like I said, I'm good before the race starts. But many of you suffer from pre-race jitters that manifest into stomach issues. I've witnessed what you do to port-a-potties that were immaculate 90 minutes before the race gun. I don't have that problem. Heck, some of you were laughing at me when I rolled up to the starting line while stuffing French fries in my pie hole. Indeed, I've got an iron gut from the warm up to the finish.

But post-race jitters are the problem for me. No, scratch that. Let’s call a spade a spade: it’s not just simple jitters; it's an adrenal gland kicking nightmare.

I don’t know about you, but when I’m trying to fall asleep, all I see is Lee Bumgarner repeatedly attacking and counter attacking the pack. It seems to take forever, but eventually, like the boogie man of your worst dreams, one of Bumgarner’s attacks finally breaks him free with a few chasers jumping in pursuit.

Now here’s the thing. Even in my sleepy, half-stupor consciousness, my brain makes the connection that though Bumgarner’s up the road, the race is on a short, closed-circuit course. Then somewhere from the crusty crags of my cerebellum I hear John Lefler’s omniscient voice: “if you’re lapped, you’ll be pulled from the race.”

A fresh shot of adrenalin kicks in. I begin mashing on the pedals furiously. Literally, this causes me to kick my wife underneath the sheets. Katherine yells aloud, waking us both up momentarily. I apologize; she lets out a heavy sigh, fluffs her pillow and rolls back over.

Moments later, she’s drifted back into sleep. Katherine's heavy breathing carries me once more to the race course, where my breathing is also laborious. I’m huffing and puffing, spinning like a fool in the chase group. I hear what sounds like a dog barking to my left. I look, and to my astonishment, my teammate is like the mythical guard dog from hell, Cerberus, with three three heads protruding from his MWCC jersey. They're stripping their teeth and frothing at the mouth. Sweat, spit and snot is flying everywhere. The first of three heads turns and looks me squarely in the eyes and growls, “CONTROL THE PACE!” Not to be outdone, head #2 turns toward me and barks, “COVER ALL ATTACKS!” Then the third one — the one with the nasty snaggletooth and the booming voice — snarls at me, “NEVER CHASE DOWN YOUR TEAMMATE!!

At that moment, Jarred Berger (Team KAOS) launches a blistering attack and is off the front of the chase pack.

I stand on the pedals to answer.

The three headed MWCC Cerberus barks in unison: "NO, NO, NO!!!!”

I sit up violently in bed. Katherine wakes up again. She says something I can’t repeat here on my blog. (She’s a lurker, reading this post along with you. Hi Katherine. Forgive me yet?)

By then I was sweating. My heart rate was upper Z3, maybe higher. I got up for a drink of water. The water does little to quench my thirst. I put the cool glass against my flush face and make a potentially marriage-winning decision to ride out the rest of the night jitters on the couch.


I’ve got problems folks. I could probably deal with jitters pre-race. But afterwards? I'm a nut job. Geez, I never saw that one coming.