Friday, July 17, 2015


Last weekend's races at Clear Lake were humbling. I went in with a plan and high hopes. I even wrote about my aspirations beforehand, asking for serenity, courage and wisdom. With our team struggling for results, I wanted us to have something to be proud of for our efforts.

As it turned out, I had my worst racing results till date. The team didn't fare much better. What was even more difficult to process was how I raced: I lacked the courage to act when it counted.

After the time trial that put me in the bottom half, I went into the criterium with hopes of doing better. I figured that although I may not be the fastest of the bunch, and I don't have the bursty speed that most of my competition has, I am a decent bike handler with good enough torque to manage the course's technical turns and punchy hill. All I needed to do was to line up early, get a good start, and stay up front and things would take care of themselves. In fact, that's how it all started. But within a few laps, I started getting swarmed. Rather than fighting for position, I let others take my line. A short time later, a nasty crash happened right behind me. That got me rattled. And a few laps after that, my front wheel got channeled into a crack at 30 mph, spooking me further. It was also around that time that I noticed there were still 32 laps remaining. Oof.

My courage suffered a lot. I was gassed way too early, and fighting at the back of the pack -- not to move up -- but to simply hang on.

Fast forward to 10 to go: I reached for my water bottle and noticed that it was also dangling: one bolt was missing, and the other was backed half way out. I decided that it was enough of a safety issue that warranted pulling into the pit. If that meant abandoning the race, so be it. But the pit judge had mercy, and after a cage adjustment from SRAM neutral support, I was pushed back into the pack for the final 15 minutes of racing. A mere three laps later, I was dangling at the back again, this time with cramping from my quads. With five to go, I was separated from the peloton for good, and was pulled from the race, finishing near DFL.

I struggled after the race to get my brain right. As much as I attempted to force bravery upon it, it didn't take much resistance to fill it up with doubts again. As a result, Sunday's road race was more of the same story. I rode to survive. Riding to survive is not racing. It certainly isn't team racing. It's selfish, and frankly, pointless to pin a number on. I mean, I practically did nothing to ensure the success of anyone on my team. But survival is what I did, at least until around the 75th mile. That's when I started cramping again. However, unlike the previous day's cramping, this one culminated in what felt like a knife stuck in my quad. It tightened up so much that I couldn't turn my pedal. My race was done.

I've spent some time soul searching this past week. I thought about the fine racing that both Shim and Chris Spence did, and the tactics of others that raced well. I recalled hearing the confident discussions among the peloton about the immanent attacks that they were about to launch (and did successfully). I wanted nothing of it at the time. It's because I lacked confidence and courage.

It comes to this: I've got unfinished road racing business to attend to. Last week, I had plans. I had the serenity to know what I could and couldn't change. And I dare say that I even had the wisdom to know the difference between the two. Despite this, I lacked the courage to race my bike fearlessly. These thoughts have fueled my workouts this past week, and will be on my mind for some time to come, resuming with tomorrow's four hour ride.

Courage and miles won't take care of themselves. They both need tending. It starts by getting on the saddle, clipping in and turning the pedals. Somewhere down the road, I hope mine is restored.

Thanks for reading. Happy Friday

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