Tag Archives: 2010 Race Season

A foreigner in a strange land

I made it out to my first race since my accident. No, I didn’t ride a bike. Actually, I take that back, I did roll a little ways on Thing Three’s 24 inch mountain bike. Don’t tell my doctor! It was a different experience — kind of surreal.

It was obvious that things were going to be different. As we pulled up into the lot I saw all the cars and then I saw all the tan people putting their bikes together. I’m always kind of dark, but I knew right away that these guys had seen a lot more sun over the last couple of months.

Meeting some folks I haven’t seen in a while was the highlight of the night. It was a little awkward. It may seem strange because I put myself out in a public way with this blog, but really I’m a pretty shy person. It means a lot that people were concerned about me and how I am progressing, but I don’t really like talking about it.

The problem came with what to talk about after that. Time has passed me by. I was not up on all the action that has taken place in my absence. Relationships are built on shared experiences and I haven’t shared a lot with my cycling buddies in a while.

That was really evident when I approached my teammates. It was just before the Masters 35+ race. I was going to wish them well. As I got closer, I could feel it. It is that aura of testosterone. I never really noticed it before because up till now, I was part of the generator. Now it was obvious to me.

The strange thing was that it felt foreign. It was like I was looking at strangers. It was like I couldn’t relate with what they were thinking and experiencing at that moment.

It was fun to watch them roll off and the attraction to the strategic part of the process was reawakened. Watching the expressions on the faces as the field streamed by did cause me to pause… “Man, I don’t know if I could do that right now!” Fact is, I can’t! Once again that foreign feeling crept in.

It isn’t that I didn’t at one time know exactly how they felt. It isn’t that at one time I was not able to hang with them. It was just that at that moment, it seemed a different world. It brought back experiences of what seemed like far distant past. It aroused questions of what it will take to experience them again.

Thanks to everybody who welcomed me back. This post isn’t to give the impression folks didn’t welcome me back. It is just that something inside of me was disconnected. Maybe it boils down to the fact that part of your identity at a race is your bike. Last night, I didn’t have one.

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.

The race season is underway

With the start of the Tour Down Under yesterday, the professional racing season is officially underway. Wow! That came quickly. I wonder how the professionals feel about their off-season getting shorter and shorter? With their season underway, it won’t be long before mine will start up.  Looks like I’m going to get an early start as well.

Here is my schedule for the year. Of course, it could change – especially those races that fall on Sunday. If the race time isn’t one that allows me to attend church services, then it is out. However, if these races follow previous start times, I believe I will be able to pull it off. I’m sure there will also be other races that come on the schedule for which I will find myself mounting up.

Paris Mountain Time Trial – 01/30

Spring Series Donaldson – 02/20
Spring Series BMW Test Track – 02/21 (My 42nd birthday!)
Spring Series Fork Shoals – 02/27
Spring Series Donaldson – 02/28

Spring Series River Falls – 03/06
Spring Series Donaldson – 03/07

ION Village Crit – 04/17
SC Crit Championships – 04/18
POA Series – 04/22
(Meals on Wheels) – 04/24 Designated team charity ride
Spartanburg Classic – 04/30

Domestique Criterium – 05/08
Domestique Criterium – 05/22
POA Series – 05/27

SC TT Championships – 06/05
Beaufort Road Race – 06/19
POA Series – 06/24

French Broad TT – 07/16
French Broad RR – 07/17
French Broad Crit – 07/18
POA Series – 07/29

POA Series – 08/26

SC RR Championships – 09/18
POA Series – 09/30

POA Fall Extravaganza – 10/01
POA Fall Extravaganza – 10/02
POA Fall Extravaganza – 10/03
Greenville Classic – 10/10?

Follow along and enjoy the ride! You can also follow my team – POA Cycling Team – at POACycling.com. A new site is coming soon and it is going to be sharp!