Hope springs eternal

Jim Cunningham is a great coach and he has helped me out a lot. However, he doesn’t know me nearly as well as my “bicycle psychiatrist” John James. I know I’m going to get some good post-race advice from the guy I’ve chased around northern Greenville County for years. So, I head over to Sunshine Cycle Shop to hear that famous post-race question, “Well, do you know what you did wrong?”

It is funny how your brain takes snapshots and sometimes those images don’t match up with reality. This was the case when I came upon the following photo from fellow racer Edward Couvillion’s Facebook profile. I could have sworn I was closer to Clark as we neared the line. Perhaps it is that Clark slowed going across and I closed quickly to his wheel just after this photo was snapped.

SC State Criterium Championship Category 4 finish

Photo thanks to Edward Couvillion

This time John didn’t get a chance to ask the question when I walked into the shop. I popped out with the answer before he could ask. “I went too soon,” I said as I saw him begin to form his first word. “Who told you that?” he asked. “No one,” I replied. “Well, that is what you did wrong,” he continued. “When you came up out of the saddle the other guys were just sitting there and you gave them a free pull closer to the line.”

Then John pointed out something I didn’t realize I did. He told me that as Clark and Benjamin came into my vision I hesitated just slightly. Bottom line is that I never truly committed to the sprint.

This was borne out as I talked with Jim about my power file from the race. In the final sprint, my max power was only 840 watts. That is nearly 300 to 400 watts what I typically hit in a final attack to the line. I may have felt that I was giving all I had, but the bottom line is I never fully committed 110% — and you basically have to commit 120% to win!

Talking through it with Jim and John I came to this conclusion as to what happened. 1) It was the first time I had a lead out. I was hesitant not knowing how to play off my lead out man. When Matt slowed, I attacked, and then he came up to sprint with me; I questioned whether I was going at the right time (Hesitation No. 1). 2) When the other sprinters came off my wheel and entered my vision, I further questioned my decision and let up on the sprint ever so slightly (Hesitation No. 2). That led me to start playing catch up and I was unable to put out the “pop” with which I typically start my attack.

So, does this discourage me? Nope! It gives me renewed hope that I can do this. It isn’t physiological. It is tactical and mental. I CAN beat guys like Clark and Benjamin. The tools are there, I just need to learn better how to use them.

Last race I lost in a field sprint, I determined that I would not quit and lose a spot at the line. I feel that I carried that through in the State Championships. Now, I’ve just got to START correctly.

It is a learning process. Sometimes I think I learn a lot slower than some other people. However, I am learning and even though I may not get an A+ on every exam, I’m always close. Maybe next time… hope springs eternal.