Tuesday Night Lessons

As is the routine, today was all about the Tuesday night criterium. I really relish racing these criteriums – they are a chance to see all the local racers, get in a race, and have some fun. I was looking forward to tonight as this would be my second criterium of the season and I was feeling pretty good. Well, lets just say it did not go as planned…

I am struggling in the corners. It is a new course this year and I’m struggling with my cornering technique. I know what I’m doing wrong but when I’m on the ropes and doing the dreaded “going backwards when everyone is going forwards” move, it is hard to think straight. I’m braking. Yes, I know braking is a massive “do not do” in a criterium. I’m braking because I’m a bit nervous. I’m braking because I haven’t got the rhythm of the new course.

As Marc pointed out, I don’t have the strength to repeatedly re-accelerate from 35 km/hour after braking to the 50 km/hour that the field is moving. So I just need to get it through my thick skull that I need to stop braking. Frustrating thing is that on the “old” course I was super smooth in the corners and braking just didn’t enter into my racing thought process.

I know I’m fit. I know I’ve been training well. But I haven’t been racing a lot. Sigh. It is hard to learn and get comfortable when the race is moving at 50 km/hour. But it is time to step up to the plate and get it done. This is much easier than sitting here feeling sorry myself and being frustrated. Yes, it is a training criterium but it is also a mega-confidence booster knowing that I can races these races with the Ottawa fast boys.

The day did start off really well. I took my trusty Stevens Super-Prestige out for a little skills session in my local park. I had a blast! Worked on the basic stuff – mounts, dismounts, tight turns, descending and turning, climbing and turning. Just generally a fun time on bikes. I could have stayed out there all morning. Felt good to be back on my ‘cross bike. I’ll be out working on skills every week now and soon enough I’ll be adding in extra sessions. The time is now to get the body and mind retrained with the ‘cross basics so by the time race season rolls around – this will be deeply ingrained.

I admit that on my ride home from the criterium I had a few moments of feeling sorry for myself and I did a good job of beating myself up. But now I’m over it. It is what it is. I know what I’m doing and I just need to relax and let the bike do its work. Besides, I had a fantastic session on the ‘cross bike and I’m looking forward to a similar experience tomorrow. It is hard to remember at times that my season starts in September so there is no point in beating myself up over a training race….

If you’re in Ottawa this weekend and are looking for something to do – come on out to Preston St. and watch the criterium racing. The elite women are off at 2:00 (yes, I’ll be racing) and the elite men are off at 3:00. Good and fast times guaranteed.

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