Friday, May 7, 2010

How to Lose a Race you Should Win by and EXPERT in the field

Birth of a suicide attack: Wente Criterium, 2010 ->>>>
Photo by BMX and LARPD cyclocross promoter extraordinaire Shane Huntoon.

On Wednesday we had the second annual bike race at work. Last year I sort of messed it up and missed the win by hesitating. This year I'm definitely faster, fitter and more confident.

Now pull up a chair for some old timey Uncle Roy past glamorization... Back in the day, I was a young buck full of piss and vinegar, with loads of free time and more strength in my legs than I knew what to do with. I loved to race my bike and did so as much as possible, logging up to 70 races a year in my peak. But I was dumb as a donkey when it came to tactics. In my head I was Jacky Durand, Massimo Ghirroto all rolled into one attacking, off the front, fighting machine. Dumb dumb dumb. My specialty was attacking, getting caught and then counterattacking my own capture! As a result I would spend most of a race off the front by myself or with one or two companions in suicide fliers that would always get caught.

My second specialty was doing that Ekimov move where you try to attack with 2 km to go and hold it to the line only to be swamped with 200m to go. The drama was high in these maneuvers but the results were nonexistent. Guys who had been around awhile were constantly coming up to me in large training rides, parties or after races and saying things like, "man you were STRONG in XXXsuchandsuchraceXXX, I thought sure you were going to stay away." The intimation was that I was a rider on the up and was headed for bigger things. But I never got smart. I continued to race dumb. Then I stopped racing and I always wondered what could have been if I'd only been smarter.

When I started pinning numbers on last year I promised myself I would race smarter. Nowadays, I make up for that lack of pure horsepower by sitting in, waiting and being smarter. With the exception of the Wente Crit -where I purposefully blew my wad off the front in three separate suicide attacks- I've done a good job of it. Until Wednesday...

I had every expectation of winning the race on Wednesday. I mean, I had already savored visions of obtaining and actual trophy and where I was going to put it and everything. Jasper would think it was so cool that Dad actually won a race and had a trophy and everything. I blew off the little voice in my head saying, "don't count them chickens..." like a sister ignoring the pleas of a younger brother to come play catch in the backyard. This race was MINE.

So about the time I found myself THRICE counterattacking myself into the wind the doubt started to creep in. "Hey stupid, we don't race like this anymore, right? Do you really think you have that much energy to waste? You raced your balls off last night with legs that were already pretty tired... Are you sure you shouldn't just be sitting in and waiting for the finish? You're only dropping half the pack, not all of it..." But there I was, 95% heart rate, a tiny two second gap and caught again and again. Then with the last 2 km into a very stiff headwind I was fading and fading hard. The splintered pack was divided, the top folks were sprinting for the line and I was solo in no man's land watching the three trophy spots sprint for it. Fourth place was my reward for stupidity. No trophy, no win, no nothing. Just a big headache for the rest of the day and one very pissed off me, at me. Ah, what a familiar sensation...

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