Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Villebois: The Big Psyche Out

Short race report: new bike and out of control nerves. Not a top ten finish, but I did win some beer.

Long Race Report: This was the first race on the new Kona cross bike. Everything is great about this bike, except its operator. She needs some training. And she has GOT to lay off the sauce on Friday nights.

D and I met Heidi, Sal, Sherry and some other PV folks out at Villebois Saturday afternoon for a pre-ride. This was my first and only constructive accomplishment on Satruday due to the hangover I earned on Friday night.

Friday afternoon I met D over at the Manifest. He got to shop all afternoon for a steel frame to build up as a winter bike (ultimately deciding on a Proletariat Bicycles frame). I drooled over the pink and black De Salvo track bike, but eventually scratched my shopping itch with the purchase of a purple and orange wool winter cycling hat with ear flaps. I love it primarily because it doesn't match a single thing that I own.

Total Friday damage: two beers at the Manifest, a dirty bombay martini and two glasses of wine at dinner with Heidi and Sal and another beer at W&K after dinner. I went to bed feeling good. I woke up feeling pretty awful. And pretty much stayed steady at "pretty awful" until after the pre-ride.

Love it or hate it, the Villebois course was interesting. Lots of ruts, bumps and terrain changes on corners. Only one real incline and a serious wall of a run-up. It definitely favored mountain bikers and confident bike handlers. We rode 4 or 5 laps on the pre-ride and I was pretty excited about racing it the next day.

That excitement faded at about 11am on Sunday. That is when the nerves took over. Quite honestly, dealing with that is a higher priority right now that learning to handle the new bike. Nothing like debilitating anxious nasuea to take most of the fun out of a beautiful fall raceday.

D lined up to race with the Master B's, but he rolled a tubie three minutes in and called it quits. I'm going to buy a bottle of champagne for the day that that poor man actually makes it to the finish of a cross race.

I warmed up for about 45 minutes. Probably longer than necessary, but spinning was my only distraction from being a total head case. Heidi and I lined up ridiculously early, but did manage to get a good spot: on the front line, but away from the squabbling that was taking place on the edges as people tried to squeeze in at the last minute. (Note to gal in pink tank: claiming that its okay that you've cut up front because "you're really not that competitive" is not going to endear you to anyone. If you're not competitive, please take your ass to the back of the bus and let those of us who want to do battle, battle.)

The start was on pavement, with a sharp right hand turn onto gravel after 75 meters. Thus started a first lap of full-on idiot bike racing manuevers. The first was forgetting that the brakes on the Kona are reversed. Instead of gently slowing into that first turn, I almost pitched myself onto someone's backside.

My second (or maybe my first, depending on the way you look at it) idiot maneuver was not getting my ass right to the front to begin with. As a result, I got stuck behind 4 or 5 trainwrecks on the first lap as some of the gals that had started fast got hung up when the course got technical and when several pulled off of the course completely at a more nerve-wracking downhill. Nearly flew off the course several times when I hit the wrong brake on switchbacks and/or when I hipchecked the bike through a turn (the hipcheck that worked for the Redline is about 5 times too much for the Kona: a bike that weighs five pounds less and doesn't need to be bribed with a pedicure into responding at corners).

I pulled my head partially out of my ass by the time we started the second lap and had almost made up contact with the back of the lead group of B riders. Then I dropped the chain when I didn't soft pedal through a rutted downhill. And promptly put my head back in my ass for the rest of the lap. We were already passing some of the beginner and masters riders midway through the second lap. Instead of working to get around them and maintain contact, I just coasted along and got pissier and pissier with myself.

My legs were also not having any of my half-assed efforts to keep up. I can usually HTFU and ignore leg fatigue. Instead I started obsessing about how much the dead weight below my waist had to do with spending Saturday hungover and dehydrated and how much of it had to do with all of the energy I had expended by being a pre-race head case.

The third and fourth laps were uneventful (other than the fact that I finally got my head completely removed from my backside) and I was picking up a lot of momentum through the end of the fourth lap. Then the officials started pulling riders. I was a little peeved about this for a few reasons. First, by my watch, we had only been racing for 35-36 minutes. Second, I would have caught a few more gals on a fifth lap if I hadn't ridden like a total jackass during the second lap. I understand why they were pulling riders (we were coming in with some ladies who were probably doing 17 minute laps), but it still sucked.

Final results have me at 14th place. Assessing this finish is a matter of perspective. My best finish last year was ninth, and I usually languished in the mid 20's. So, relatively speaking fourteenth is great. At the same time, this was my kind of course and my fitness and bike handiling this year is better than a 14th place finish.

All bitching aside, it was a fun race on challenging course, on a gorgeous day filled with the company of a bunch of really fantastic people.

So I've got a new strategy for the next few weeks. First-Lay off the sauce. Its pretty stupid to wreck a whole week of 5am workouts and after dark training rides in five short hours of revelry. Second-Chill the hell out and remember that, five years from now, I won't remember how I finished in a race. What I will remember how much fun it all was: Jason "riding" a whole race without a chain, D's attempts to diffuse my nerves with inappropriate humor and well-timed ass-slapping, Heidi's face as she finished running a bike race and all of the friends that got in my face with words of encouragement.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You should remember how much fun you had when you started cross no matter how you performed and forget about winning or placing. Relax, because you appear to be wringing the fun right out of it.