Monthly Archives: August 2010

Can’t catch a brake

In the 2003 Tour de France, on the Alpe d’Huez stage, Lance Armstrong blamed his less-than-stellar performance in part on his rear brake rubbing for the first 200km. I remember a lot of people making fun of him over that. Hold that thought.

I’m riding in this week’s Westlake training race, and I’m thinking, “damn, this seems really hard.” We’re going fast, but not insane-fast. Every turn I notice that I’m having to close a gap. As the race is winding down, I’m literally struggling to hang on. I’m thinking, this is really a bad sign: can I really be in that much of a training hole that I can’t hang on here?

I pull off to get water by the baseball fields, and realize my bike isn’t coasting well. I get off and see that my rear brake is jammed against the rim. I try to spin the wheel. It won’t even go around once before the brake stops it.

So I’m wondering how many extra watts I had to put out just to overcome the brake.

And I’m sorry for making fun of Lance 7 years ago.

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It Wasn’t Supposed to Turn Out Like This …

I was supposed to be driving back home from Masters Nationals with a new jersey on the seat beside me. Or at least with some silver hardware. Instead I was driving up I-71 through pouring rain thinking about how it had gone wrong.

So much was lined up in my favor: Nationals were within driving distance. I moved up an age group, so I was one of the young pups (in a relative sort of way). I’d ridden the course last year so knew exactly what to expect. I hadn’t gotten sick all season. I’d done lots of training — more than in recent years — and had some good early season results.

Two weeks before the event, Thurlow Rogers was not registered.

Then at some point it started to unravel. Struggled at the Tour of Valley. Felt like crap at Westlake. Had trouble finishing a TT workout. Ten days before Nationals rode poorly at the Tour de Bemus. Thurlow appeared on the start list, and I was his 30 second man in the TT. Finally at Nationals, I just felt empty.

The result? 5th in the TT. Respectable, but not what I came to do. In the road race, I made the winning break then got shelled in the oppressive heat.

When you’re focused on day-to-day training unfortunately you can lose sight of the big picture, which seems to be what happened. Too much heavy training and racing without enough recovery. The irony is that all the training and racing that was supposed to prepare me ended up wrecking me.

That is a bitter pill to swallow. But swallowing the disappointment is what I think has to be done. I’m tempted to look for an excuse, look on the bright side, say that it will make me stronger, accept the congrats from those who say 5th is pretty good. But the fact is that I didn’t do well, I’m not happy about it, and there’s nothing I can do about it now.

I’m also tempted say that it was a waste of time — all the training, racing, and focus. But everyone who pins on a number is risking disappointment. There would be no champions otherwise.

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It’s Not About the Race

If nothing else, traveling to a big bike race (in this case Masters Nationals in Louisville) is always good for a few interesting experiences …

Some Things Are Just Wrong
It’s acceptable, though dorky, to wear support hose in the parking lot before and after the race. It’s less than acceptable and without a doubt dorky to wear them elsewhere in public. But it should be downright illegal to actually wear them DURING the race. Especially Nationals.

The Height of Masters’ Self-Indulgence?
I nominate: coming to Nationals by yourself in a motor home big enough for a Euro pro team, then leaving the generator running for hours to power the air conditioning while everyone else is sweating buckets and breathing in the exhaust fumes.

The Best Road Rash Award Goes To …
… I’m not going to name names, but it goes to the racer who biffed in the parking lot on the way to look at results.

Vanilla Only
There is only one Dairy Queen in all of Louisville that serves chocolate ice cream. That’s what one of the DQ employees told us. That seems vaguely racist. Someone should investigate to find out the location of the DQ that serves chocolate.

Real Men Eat Meat
Two skinny guys (Matt and I) walk into a Bob Evans to get a pre-race breakfast. One skinny guy asked for oatmeal and 2 eggs. The other asks for oatmeal, 1 egg, and 1 pancake. And water. I felt like I was in a Seinfeld episode — the one where Jerry is on a date and orders a “just a salad” at a steakhouse and the waiter is visibly bothered. It was even worse when we each could only finish half of our vats of oatmeal.

Next day before leaving I had to go back and order some meat just so they didn’t think we were “some of those”.

I Went to Louisville and Waited at Red Lights in my Spare Time
This could also be filed under “Some Things Are Just Wrong”. The planners of suburban Louisville must have taken their inspiration from the concrete gardens of Florida. Getting from our hotel to the Starbucks less than 1 mile away involved a 10 minute drive. You couldn’t walk because there was no way for a pedestrian to cross the 5 lane, divided Hurstbourne “Parkway” (irony apparently was a strength of the planners). I watched a few try to dodge cars, but I concluded it wasn’t worth the risk of becoming a hood ornament. Going anywhere along this so-called parkway involved unbearable waits at traffic lights. After time, do you just get used to it? Don’t know if I could.

Remember, We’re a Service Organization
Reading what I wrote above, I’m sensing just a bit of negativism. Hmm, guess that goes along nicely with my results. On the positive side, the event seemed to run more smoothly than the last two years. The staff and officials were polite and generally helpful. I actually heard one official say to another (with just a hint of sarcasm) “remember, we’re a service organization” as one racer was loudly complaining about his bike not meeting the UCI specs.

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