Saturday, January 5, 2008

A Confidence-Building Exercise (District Championship RR) (20070805)

Men's Cat 3 race, it's James Bauer and I. I woke up at ass o' clock (4am
for those following along at home), and picked James up for the drive
down to a cold and foggy Monterey.

After much consideration, I put on my winter cycling kit - bib knickers,
a warm underlayer, arm warmers, a vest - the works. And it was the right
choice. Where's summer??

Weather aside, I have a mental problem while cycling. Well okay, I have
a few, and some aren't cycling-related, but specifically I have a hard
time making it up steep climbs with the pack. I have gotten dropped on
climbs a lot so I don't have a lot of confidence on them.

The CalCup race series is about to start though, and I want to do well,
and it has some hilly road races. So what I need is to have some
confidence that I can climb with the 3s heading into the CalCup series.

So heading into this race I had one goal: finish with the pack. Doesn't
sound exciting but this is a very hilly course so if I can do that I
will know that I can climb okay. That's very important for the confidence.

So we start off, and James attacks. Go James! Now I'm familiar with
James' style of racing, and he always attacks. Early. And usually he
comes back pretty quick (sorry, man Smile ), but this time, he's rolling
away. Well, damn. Go James!

A couple people bridge up to him. The laps are flying by, the pack
catches James, James attacks again! Good Lord James! That's gotta hurt.
He's away for a couple laps again. The pack catches him again, and he
attacks again!! Okay, this is silly. I had to use two exclamation points
there. He stays off for the last half lap of his four and a half laps
off the front (that'd be 50 miles or so, for those still keeping score)
but now we're all together.

Up till now, I've been relaxing in the pack and just working on my
cycling tan (coming along quite nicely, thank you) but we have gone hard
up the hill a couple times and hey, it only hurt like the third or
fourth circle of hell, not the inner circles. This has potential.

We get to the last time up the climb and Ryan Bennett, an ex-teammate of
ours and nice guy takes off up the climb. I'm at the front too, and for
a moment I'm going to catch him but I remember my goal, I look at my
power numbers and heart rate both going into blinky-redline territory
and decide to let him go and make sure I finish with the pack rather
than bury myself trying to catch up.

I cross the top of the climb with the front group, but Ryan's gone. We
hammer along towards the finish line, there's a big nasty hairy sprint
in which I take 5th, but Ryan stayed away, so I got 6th in the race.

This was, to me, a huge victory. Upgrade points from cat 3 to cat 2 go 7
deep. So I got 2 points well before I thought I'd get any cat 2 points.
"Best All-Around Rider" (BAR) points go 10 deep, so I got some BAR
points for me and the team. And I made it up the hill with the group.
I've got some confidence now.

No celebration for meeting a goal is complete without protein, but I
chased my protein shake with some scotch. Cheers.

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