Small lessons

7 Sep

I may have been hoping for a bit of epiphany out there on the time trial course.  Either during my individual race, or during the two-man-team event I was press-ganged into at the last minute, I was at least subconsciously expecting something profound to occur to me.  Some lactic acid-tinged revelation to change my life or my approach to training or my concept of myself as a rider.

Didn’t really get any of those, but took away a few lesser insights that I’m tossing around.

I’m noticeably better at keeping myself focused than in the last TT I did, two years ago.  This is a good thing.  A little nugget of self-knowledge to tap into at some point when I need to decide whether I’m in the race or off the back.

A short TT becomes an almost ludicrously short TTT.  The focus on a teammate, the worries of drafting, pulling off and getting back on the wheel without stranding yourself or your teammate exposed in the wind, and the pressure of making sure you’re not the weak link all add up to less conscious worry about your own performance.  It’s over before you know it.  I can gain speed by focusing on — by fully inhabiting — my own discomfort.  However, there is equally as much “fast” to be found by devoting myself to some other purpose.  Maybe that’s why I find working for teammates in races so motivating.

As much as I can’t resist maudlin prose about the experience of road racing and the feeling of being thoroughly, completely drained (and oh, how I adore the cliché Euro-pro interview quote, “the sensations, they were good today”), I am just as much of a rube when it comes to attaching numbers to that experience.  PowerTap, you are now something I want.  I’ve been using the power meter that Polar makes for use with its heart rate monitors, but for this race I borrowed some wheels that happened to have a PT hub.  The difference in user experience — and utility — between measured and estimated power is dramatic.  The sensations, they were good.  But having that big ol’ display with the watts number was pretty useful, too.

Bike racing is still fun.  I am sometimes at a loss as to how to answer the Monday-morning question in the office after a race weekend: “Did you win?”  No, I didn’t win.  Far from it, though I exceeded my own low standards sufficiently to think about doing more of these next season.  It’s been over a decade since I crossed a finish line first (though I’ve “won” stuff since then, as the first from my age group in a mixed field or that sort of thing).  But it’s still fun to go out, race hard, feel like you’re going fast — and not just fun in the every-participant-gets-a-medal way.  I rode as hard as I could for 11 miles.  Then 20 minutes later, I did it again.  I still struggle to explain why that’s fun, but it was.  And that’s enough to keep wrestling the hydra of daily life and fit races in between kids, family trips, home improvement, and the myriad other competitors for a middle-aged father’s time.

Or at least that’s what I’m going to say when the neighborhood board starts complaining about our dead front lawn.


One Response to “Small lessons”

  1. Michele September 7, 2010 at 1:34 pm #

    I felt the same way about doing the TT with Brooke. It went much more quickly and I worked a lot harder because I could focus on the team aspect and not my own performance/suffering.

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