Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Rookie Mistakes

I am currently reading Johan Bruyneel's book "We Might As Well Win". Well, I'm not "literally" currently reading the book since I am obviously speaking words into your brain right now, but you know what I mean.

I will save the book review for later, but one of the chapters I just read was about the sayings in cycling that seem so simple and yet are so important, like "eat before you are hungry, drink before you are thirsty"; "stay out of the wind", "only ask a witness for the prosecution a question when you already know his answer", stuff like that. Johan's point is that these things seem simple, but it is hard to remember them in the crush and rush of a bike race.

I should have read that chapter before my weekend at Frozen Flatlands, then I wouldn't have had to make a bunch of rookie mistakes, or as someone said this weekend, "What a Cat 5 boner that was!" Again, not literally.

Here is my list of stupid things I should not have done to get more benefit out of my racing experience at Frozen Flatlands.

Show up for the time trail AHEAD of my start time. What?, you say. My start time was clearly stated about 18 hours before the race time. I was at the race site at least 90 minutes ahead of my race. I showed up at the start line approximately 2 minutes after my start time. And no, for those who aren't familiar with Pedro Delgado, you don't get a "mulligan" or a new start time. You roll up to the start line, put your foot down so it is not a rolling start, and you ride with your original start time. In other words, when I was one linear foot into the time trial, my time was already at or past 2 minutes. This was stupid.

Spend time with any equipment you are going to race. As previously blogged, I was traveling for most of the week ahead racing. I put tires on my race wheels, a cogset on the rear wheel and wiped down the time trial bike after dinner on Friday. I got on the bike for the first time in over two years on Saturday morning in the 60 minutes before the event. I then remembered what I was going to do to the bike after the last time trial - replace the handlebars that put me in an excruciating position and that have a tendency for the arm supports to unexpectedly give way and rotate on the center post. This was stupid.

Dose your efforts. On the long road race, I was, sadly for me, dropped by the front of the pack on an uphill surge. I knew this might happen, but I was hoping it wouldn't until the Williams Lake hill and I figured it was training no matter what. After getting dropped, I managed to claw my way into the wind and catch up to another rider. The two of us worked together to catch up to a third and then the three of us did the same to catch two more. At that point, we had two groups of three that we could see ahead of us with the remaining lead pack ahead of them. I thought that if we could put together a pack of 11 we might not see the lead group again, but we would get around the course in decent fashion and pick up the second dozen spots in the race. Not great, but nothing to cry about. So what did I do? I took a monster pull to get my group up to the next three on the road just as we turned a corner into the teeth of the wind and a short climb. Instead of moving to the back of the group and latching on . . . I opened a 5' gap, that instantly turned into 10', 20' and then a few seconds . . . and then I was screwed. Instead, I could have taken shorter turns, paid attention to the hills coming up and dosed my efforts. That was stupid.

Show up with a racing jersey. Oh, wait. That wasn't me. That was an unnamed teammate.

So, the Frozen Flatlands wrap-up? First, thanks to the officials and the men and women of the Baddlands Cycling Team. They put on a great event (although could we talk about a later date on the calendar?) and they single-handedly pulled road bike racing through the doldrums so that there is a growing group of people putting on more and more events each year. Second, they say there is no whining in bike racing, so I won't whine. I accept the blame for my own fitness and my own rookie mistakes. Will I look to change a few things next year? Yes. Will I hope for better weather? Yes. Will I try to avoid any stray dogs on the course? Yes. And will I try to avoid making rooking mistakes? Yes, I will try.

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