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.