Chasing myself

I can understand how some pro riders feel pressure to dope.  I don’t agree with it, but I can understand it.

After a bad race, and then another, you start to have doubts.  When you’re doing this “just for fun”, it’s not such a big deal (though it doesn’t feel that way).But if you’re a professional, and your livelihood depends on your performance, the stakes are higher. How do you handle that pressure?

I had a (relatively) bad race at the Groveport Time Trial.  Then my legs felt tired and heavy at the Thursday night Leroy TT. At that point I was about ready to just stay off the time trial bike for a while.

So I waited until the last minute, literally, to sign up for the State Championship time trial.  That put me on the receiving end of a cosmic joke: starting 1 minute in front of Paul Martin, multi-time national champion. Great.  Being passed in the TT would send my confidence even lower.

We pre-rode the course the day before the race.  After a hard week of training my legs felt bad.  So while others were doing their pre-race “openers”,  I rode slow.  Really slow.  So slow it was tedious riding the entire 19 or so (no one seems to know the exact distance) mile course.  I even stopped for a pee break. Not a good sign.

But maybe the easy ride was exactly what was needed, because I woke up with legs that felt fresh.

Standing in the start house, I was not happy knowing that Paul would be chasing me.  It was going to be a tailwind on the way out — Paul would be flying.  And a headwind, with more uphill, on the way back — Paul would be hammering.  The challenge for me was to ride my own race, and not spend energy worrying about getting caught.  Yeah, I kept repeating that over and over.

It worked, until the turnaround, at which point I could not ignore the sight of Paul chasing.  I started to push harder — harder than I should have, but I just couldn’t help it.  As I started to fade, I could almost feel Paul closing in on me.  With every whoosh of air from a passing car, I fully expected Paul to be flying by me.  But I didn’t dare look back.

Somehow, with 2.5 miles to go, I found the strength to push to the finish.  Only then did I look back and see … that I couldn’t see Paul. At that point, I didn’t care what my time was.   I wasn’t close to having been caught.

The bonus was finding that my time was good enough for the podium — 3rd in the 1-2 field and 3rd overall.

And just as quickly as the doubts can enter, they can exit after a good ride. I think it’s similar to what golfers say: that one good shot on the 18th hole will make you forget about all the triple bogeys on the first 17 holes.


Results here

Excellent photo set here. (kudos to Robert)

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