Crit Racing in the USA

Just chilling out here in the Hampton Inn in Johnson City. Had a good day of bike racing and bike watching. I’ve got that dull post-race leg ache and an overall body tiredness. Signs of a good hard effort on the bike. Haven’t felt this in a while. Boy, didn’t realize how much I missed it. So a third Chris Thater Memorial race is in the books for me.

I’ll admit it – I was super nervous before the race. I hadn’t raced in a while. My legs felt like lead this morning. I was having some gut problems. And I just was generally nervous. Nervous to race with such a deep and strong field. Not very often I get to line up with the likes of Tina Pic and Laura Van Gilder. But once the race got rolling I found my groove. Took me a bit but I did find it. The first five laps were insane. I was hurting but reminded myself that the pace would settle and that everyone else was deep in their pain cave. So five laps in, the pace does settle a bit. And guess what happens? A crash… Yep, on the hill. A girl swerved to dodge a deep manhole cover – crashing occurred. It happened right in front of me, I ended up hitting the deck. Don’t worry – I’m fine. Didn’t even break my skin – it was one of the slow-motion crashes where you’re looking for an out and can’t find one. Unfortunately, two girls were injured quite badly. The race was neutralized as we waited for the ambulance to take the girls away. Anyway the race got going after a few neutral laps. It was prime bonanza today. I was bracing myself for the big counter-attacks after the primes but it just didn’t happen. There were a few moves but in the end it came to a bunch sprint. As for me – well, I found my groove after a few laps and remembered how to ride a crit. I was in pretty good position for the bulk of the race – trying to stay close to the front and just paying attention. My problems started with five laps to go. The pace got super high and I struggled to hold my position. Ended up rolling in for 29th.

Ah well, more lessons learned. But most importantly, this race reinforced that my fitness is very good. I felt good during the race. Some of the riders were panting like dogs while we rode up the hill. I felt solid. My legs had decent snap. I recovered from the hard efforts well. I was able to close gaps and rolled through the corners well.

The big lesson I took from this race was thanks to a comment Marc made “it is okay to be nervous. Just admit that you are.” Somehow this feels like a big weight lifted off my shoulders. I admit it, I get nervous before races. I really try to fight the nerves. But it is super hard to do. I try the positive self-talk, the pre-race ritual routine, the relaxation game – but I still get nervous. Such is the way it is.

Marc raced as well today. He rode a pretty good race. He countered a prime and then unfortunately he was caught and his move was countered… Such is bike racing. Marc is racing again tomorrow in the elite race. Racing action starts at 11:30. As for me? Well, I’ve got to get in a 30 minute run and 1.5 – 2 hours ride. Yeesh, no rest for the wicked! Guess I’ll be up at the crack of dawn to get the run in and then I’ll ride the trainer during Marc’s race.

Definitely having a nice relaxing weekend here in Johnson City/Binghamton. Our hotel is right next to a Wegman’s grocery store. This grocery store rocks! It has a cafe – so of course we ate there this evening. Pretty impressive – I had a bevy of different couscous, wheat berry, and quinoa salads and a super chicken soup. Marc had a serious turkey sandwich and soup. Pretty darn tasty. The cool thing – every item they sell in the cafe – from the steamed broccoli, to the burritos, pizza, and submarine sandwiches has the complete nutritional breakdown – all the ingredients are listed along with the calories/fat/carb/salt/sugar numbers. This grocery store also has a super impressive natural foods section. I discovered sugar free Oregon Chai concentrate. And best of all – Greek yogurt – Fage brand. How happy am I? Excellent bike racing, Greek yogurt, sugar-free chai concentrate, and a diet Dr. Pepper – makes me pretty smiley.

Looking forward to watching Marc and coach Steve race tomorrow. Great weekend. Excellent way to close off the road season and bridge to the ‘cross season.

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