The Bikegame

Or maybe this should be titled – The Mindgame? Or how about – The Excusegame?

So as you probably know I’m home from a weekend of ‘cross racing in Toronto. Some decent fields out for the M1, elite women’s and elite men’s fields. Cool. Just what us bike racers want – lots of tough competition. The deeper the field, the better I feel about my result. Sure it is nice to get a “top result” but this for me feels somewhat diluted when the depth of field really isn’t there. My 11th place results this year feel much better than the 7th and 9th place results I had at these races last year.

Okay, so why The Excusegame? Well it seems to me that if you ever want to hear a list of excuses as to why you competitors aren’t going so well, simply sign up for a bike race. I’ve never heard so many excuses for why people didn’t get the results they expected this weekend. I might sound a bit callous here, but common people – everyone has stuff going on in their lives. No one is living the “ideal bike racer” life. The bulk of us work full-time, juggle family life, and race our bike at the elite level every weekend. It is a small margin that are actual “pros” – getting paid to race their bikes and train.

This weekend I was treated to a litany of excuses for poor results – a lot of times before the race had even started. I was so tempted to speak my mind. But I’m polite and I don’t want to come off as sounding rude and unfeeling. But if I hear one more person tell me how hard it is to work, train, travel, and race, I’m going to vomit in my mouth. (Yikes that is harsh – but this is how I feel.)

Maybe next time, I’ll whip out some excuses of my own. How about: hmm, I started racing my bike three years ago and as a Masters racer (now I race elite), I work 50 plus hours a week (usually M – Th because we are driving on Fridays), I’ve had four herniated discs, I’ve dropped 20 lbs this past season, oh and my knee is still quite sore. Do you think these are valid excuses? How about adding in – this year my cat died very suddenly, I was run off the road by an eighteen-wheeler, and my iron levels are really low.

I know this is stretching things a bit – but this is how I feel when I hear people rhyming off all the reasons why they didn’t do as well as they think they should. Really, people – are you a bike racer? Yes – okay then get on your bike and race. Stop talking and get pedaling. Everyone has crap going on. No one – not even the pros have it easy. Just be thankful that you can travel all around North America and Europe to race your bike. Lots of people out there would love to do what you’re doing. Get over yourself and think about your situation. I mean really think about your situation and how good you have it.

(Okay this ends the rant. Sorry for the negativity – I really try not to be negative on this site, but sometimes I need to let it all out.)

Check out the photos page. I posted a bunch of links to photos from the racing action this weekend. If you have pics from the Toronto races – send me an email – I’ll post a link to your site. Thanks to all the photographers out there. Along with the fantastic cheering, the photos help a lot as well.

On deck for today – recovery. Sweet sweet recovery. 90 minutes of rolling, pedaling, and listening to my iPod. The weather is decent – dry, sunny, light wind. Perfect for a spin. Tonight I’ll round things off with a solid hot power yoga session.

This weekend we’re racing in New Jersey. Cool. Talk about deep field. It will be a tough one. I’ve got lots of little changes I want to make to my racing this weekend. I think they can pretty much be summed up with one word: aggression. Better start. Attacking the course all the time. Fighting for lines. Drilling the legs and lungs. Looking ahead on the course. Turning the legs over faster – no more grinding. Stoked to race.

Home from Toronto

Ah, it is nice to be home. What a whirlwind weekend. The bag is unpacked. Laundry is on. Murphy the cat of the house is snuggled in and happy to have his people back. So today was the second day of racing at Centennial Park. Today it was all about the hill. In my opinion there was a bit too much hill in this race – but whatever – it is the same for everyone.

Marc and I got to the race course early enough to get three laps in before the first race. This helps me tremendously to ride with Marc – he can help me with my lines and we can relax a bit shaking out our legs and not feel too rushed. I chilled out in the car a bit – listened to 102.1, pinned numbers and ate my pre-race meal. Then it was back on the course again for a couple more laps – this time we went out with Steve aka Fearless Leader. We didn’t have a lot of time but managed to get in a few more good laps.

The junior boys raced the second race this morning. I have to say that Conor was most impressive today. Talk about billygoat – he went up that hill like it was nothing. He rode super well – finished 2nd – way to go Conor. Keirnan suffered an early race crash and banged up his arm, but he hung tough, dug deep and kept it going. Karl rode strong today as well. Great to see these young guys out there – very inspiring – I remember when they were little guys goofing around. Now they are all business. Keep it up guys.

Marc, Steve and Rob were up next. Marc was definitely looking for a good race today – since yesterday was derailed for him… The separation happened super fast. The first time up the hill to be exact. Peter M., Steve, and Marc basically separated themselves nicely from the field. Peter put in a big attack the second time up the hill and put himself solidly into first place. Steve came really close to bringing him back and was ripping up the course. Marc rode super well – he was in no man’s land for quite a while in third place – with a pack desperately chasing him from behind. With two laps to go, first and second place were a done deal – now the race was on for third. Marc was caught by two guys (a guy from Toronto and Craig) – they raced together – letting it come down to the sprint. Marc finished 4th. A very solid ride. I was super impressed with how he rode. Congrats Marc! Rob had an excellent ride – he looked super strong and his face was all focus and determination. Unfortunately he had some bad luck on the last lap and rolled his tubular – this cost him some places. Ah well, the rest of the race was awesome – good ride Rob. Congrats to all the guys from Ottawa who raced in the M1 races this weekend – excellent riding from the “Eastern Ontario” racers.

My race was up next. I admit, I wasn’t too excited to be racing. A pep talk from Ingrid Coney definitely helped and convinced me to line up. I’ve written a race report. Suffice it to say – my first lap was not very good – I got faster as the race went on. I finished 11th. Lots of good lessons – positives and areas to work on. I learned a lot about my racing this weekend. Lots of lessons that I’m hoping to put to use next weekend in New Jersey.

We hung out and watched the elite men’s race. Tim J. put on a clinic. The race behind him was pretty hot with Andy J.M. fighting it out in the end with J-Pow. Marc and I watched on the hill – helping to stretch the tape every now and then.

We quickly hit the road – a quick stop at Sbucks and it was onto the 401. We made excellent time and made it home before 9:00. And now, it is time for bed. (I know there are lots of photos out there – I’ll post links tomorrow – sorry – I need some sleep now.) Thanks again for the cheering and support this weekend. I met a lot of cool people this weekend. I was inspired watching the junior boys and masters women race. I’m super happy for Marc and Steve – some awesome riding – Steve was second on both days, Marc recovered well from a mechanical that would have made a lot of other racers drop out. Thanks for the inspiration, the great examples, the help before and after the race, and most importantly for helping me see clearly where I was and where I’m going. What an amazing journey.