I raced cyclocross this past Sunday. Actually, I raced twice. Neither of the results were very memorable. I might even add they were quite forgettable. It’s been a year since my last race and shoulder injury, and going into these races my initial goal was to get a feel for racing again and just gain some confidence . By the end of the first race I was more angry than confident. I had started at the very back of approximately 100 riders and soon enough I had managed to get past a group of riders. Unfortunately, after a miscalculation I went down and was passed by the same group of 10-15 guys. As I wrestled to free myself of plastic route ribbon and recenter my rotated brake lever the last guy in the group passed me and shouted a parting remark, “You’re last now!”
According to “Mighty” Mick “back in the day, they used to train by chasin’ chickens. If you could catch a chicken you could catch greased lightnin’!!!” I don’t know why that goofy quote stuck with me. It might be because it was a great euphemism way ahead of its day, or because it led to another famous quote from Mick about eating lightning and crappin’ thunder! Or maybe I just needed to succumb to my primal urge to chase a flightless bird through a back alley in hopes of turning it into a golden fried mouthful of greasy goodness. But really, who chases chickens? Who even has chickens to chase in the middle of Philly? And what does any of this have to do with cycling? I digress. I guess what I am getting at is there are ways to train that if they don’t identify you as a total jack-ass and ensure you lose any remaining sense of dignity, might actually make you better, faster and stronger.
If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward.
This is not only a great description of what happens during racing but an all enveloping description of the way I have felt for my rides these past few days. Even my blog posts are suffering! After a couple of weeks of rest, then a surprise summer cold and finally a few days of travel and ramped up client demands, I found it does not take long to find myself alone and falling behind with every pedal stroke.
This weekend I raced my first non-practice criterium since my spine surgery almost a year ago. It was a bit of a milestone for me and I really embraced the accomplishment. I had been feeling pretty good in the saddle lately and even managed to drop another 8 lbs. So when I finished a somewhat hilly little crit course and managed to finish with the lead group I actually felt pretty good. I was even convinced that my lycra encased sausage bod was looking a bit better than it had in the past. I felt a bit stronger and maybe even a bit slimmer. Until, one of my teammates posted a pic of me in my pre-race starting line stance. Other than the fact that my stature resembled that of a mountain gorilla that had gorged itself on mangos and doughnuts, all was OK.
All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure. Mark Twain was not a cyclist. But he was correct when he spoke these words. It is ignorance or in fact it’s emptiness that allows room for confidence to grow. Don’t over think it, just get on with it. An attribute that allows us to achieve many things. Unfortunately, it is an attribute I do not possess in the amounts that are critical for success on the bike. But this Wednesday night was a turning point. Through a good night on the bike and a poignant observation, the baby rhino finally took a charge in the right direction.