Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Humble Pie

I grew up in Albuquerque, NM.  Our school district had grades K-5 as elementary school, 6-8 as middle school and 9-12 was high school.  I went to John Adams Middle School, a rough place indeed.  But in 8th grade I was the man.  I was popular with the young ladies, I had that campus dialed and all the teachers and coaches knew who I was.  Then, I moved on and started 9th grade at West Mesa High School.  Suddenly I was no longer the man.  I was getting pushed around by seniors, getting wedgies in gym class and all the girls were taller than me.  Going from 8th grade to being a freshman was a humbling transition and I felt this way this past weekend at my first Cat 3 race in the Tour del Sol.

The weekend started well enough.  When a teammate and I arrived in St. George on Friday there was no wind and it was sunny and 81 degrees.  We took a nice ride out to the TT course and my legs actually felt pretty good.  I had a restless sleep that night but woke up Saturday ready for the time trial.

The weather forecast was for strong winds but warm temps.  The winds stayed away for the TT and the morning brought us perfect conditions.  I rolled up to the start line surrounded by familiar faces.  I"ve made some great friends in the peloton and many of us upgraded over the winter.  I respect a lot of these guys and know they are strong.  I had super rolleur Simon Parsons a minute in front of me and the all muscle Mike Underhill 30 seconds in front.  30 seconds behind me was the strong Tyler Matson.  It was a motivating group.

Time Trialing is an art.  I'm getting better at it.  While Tyler passed me and I lost ground to Simon and Mike, I came in at 29:13 for the 12 mile TT.  It didn't get me a good place in the GC but I did knock almost 5 minutes from last year's time.  Not bad.  I was proud of my effort.  I averaged 293 watts and 172 bpm so I really pushed as hard as I could.  The afternoon crit was always in the back of my mind though, so I did hold back in a few spots.  I didn't want to blow up too bad.

So with a good TT under my belt, I was excited for the crit.  The wind was howling across the bluff at the old airport.  It played havoc on the peloton.  I was on the rivet the whole time but with 5 laps to go, I felt like I was hanging and could at least contend for the sprint.  Then, on the straight heading into the wind I was pushed into the dirt.  It took a good 50 yards to get back on the tarmac.  Once back on the wind blew me off again.  By that time the group had rounded the bottom corner and I was well behind.  I put in 2 or 3 really solid efforts to hitch back on but in that wind it wasn't happening.  I was thoroughly beaten up by the seniors but this new frosh took his licks.  I was bruised, but not broken.

I woke up Sunday morning really feeling the beating I had taken on Saturday.  Any freshness I felt on Friday was gone.  It was cold, windy and a few rain drops were falling.  I still felt like if I could at least hang on the infamous "wall" up to Veyo I would be able to make it to Utah Hill with the group.

The road race started however with a bang.  It was strung out single file almost from the get go.  About 4 miles into it, there's a short, steep climb and I was blown up already.  I tried desperately to get back on before the wall but just didn't have it in me.  I saw Underhill struggling up The Wall and worked to bridge up to him but once he topped out he was gone.  I solo'ed into Veyo and started the next climb.  I was redlined and losing ground quickly to the group.  It started raining.  My mind checked out at that point and I turned around, calling it quits for the day. 

There's a couple ways to get dropped.  You can do what pros do and complain of stomach issues or a fever.  I could have faked a flat or blamed the weather.  However, I have no excuses so I stopped briefly for some banana cream at Veyo Pies then limped my way back to the start/finish area.  If you're going to go, go big.  I figured some good pie was good consolation for being dropped.

While the pie was fabulous as always, it wasn't as gratifying as my stops at Veyo Pies usually are.  I don't like quitting.  I won't make excuses either.  The jump from cat 4 to 3 is bigger than I expected.  There's guys in there who I had thought were already 1/2's!  I'm humbled but not discouraged.  I was very discouraged on Sunday, but dropping out should be cause for some self reflection. 

I move forward without a coach.  I need to save some dinero so I'll be self coached again for the next few months.  I've built a great base with my coach this winter and now its time to get those 3 minute hard intervals going.  I'll be focusing in the quality of each workout and getting a lot of racing in my legs. 

Just as I made it through my freshman year, I'll make it through this as well.  I eventually found my way around campus and started sticking for myself and soon found my place amongst the atheletes.  Last season started much the same way yet ended as my best season of racing in 5 years.  Here's to being humbles and eating some great pie in the process!

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