First race of 2010 is Saturday

It is time to start thinking about this weekend and the first race of my 2010 season. The feelings I’m having are kind of hard to read. Seems that part of me is looking forward to mixing it up again and another part is saying, “Do you really want to do this again?” Well, ready or not… here it comes.

The first race for most people here in Upstate South Carolina is the Greenville Spring Training Series race at Donaldson Center on Saturday, February 20. I went back to last year to check out my post for that race and realized I didn’t participate in that race. On February 16 of last year, I broke my pinkie while filming going downhill on the Furman side of Paris Mountain.

I did make it out to the course on that first day and you can see some video of the field here. The emotions and thoughts of that day are coming back to me now. It was really weird being a spectator and not a participant. I’m very thankful that I’m healthy for this year’s event!

What about Donaldson Center? I’ve never really done well there. Yes, it is home to the Tuesday Night World Championships and I’ve participated in numerous training races there. However, I’ve never seemed to get the rhythm right. Only once have I ever “won” a TNWC and that was one of the last times I rode in the B group.

Check out these videos to get a sense of the course…

First half of the second lap of a five lap ride

Second half of the second lap of a five lap ride

Here are the shortcomings that I believe I must get past in order to be successful.

  1. Be patient. Out there on that course I have a tendency to get real antsy about breaks. I’ve got to be patient and let things unfold a bit without jumping on the front to pull an early break back. The great unknown? How do I know which break to go with?
  2. See the wind. It was said that Dale Earnhart could see the wind while drafting on the super speedways. It is a skill that I obviously was not born with! I’ve got to recognize the effects of the wind and then position myself to take advantage of it in the field.
  3. Ride through it. This is one area where I am very curious to see the results of my training. Typically on this course I go through a challenge on the first or second lap. Most likely because I’m not accomplishing 1 and 2, I find myself really struggling. I have learned that if I just ride through it, I improve. The great unknown? Has my training made it so that this won’t be an issue?
  4. Don’t quit. There have been times in the TNWC races that I have been in the top 5 – 10 within sight of the finish. However, I’ve watched riders go around me. I always chalked it up to, “You’re just not a sprinter.” I’ve also had an amount of fear at the close riding and fast speeds. Well, experience and training has given me some confidence in both of these areas. On Saturday, I’ve just got to let it all hang out.

Of course, having said all that, I realize I will be racing on a team. I don’t know yet how many of my mates I will with me in the Category 4 race. This isn’t an A race for me. It very well could be that my job will be to set things up for a teammate and it won’t be my job to go for a win. Even if that is the case, I do have a low rung goal of finishing above my only official race finish there – 18th.