A Beautiful Day in Chambana

Awesome Image: Love from Ginger

 

It was a beautiful day in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, Chambana as I have heard some people refer to it. The sun was shining, it was 65 degrees, birds were singing, geese were honking, and the trees were in full bloom. The new course for Scarlet Fire Racing’s Urbana Grand Prix circuit race was just as beautiful–a 1.6 mile loop though a gorgeous park with some great flow, only four corners, and fun elevation changes. Seriously. This course was awesome. I double checked with the race director (cuz we’re tight), and he’s bringing this course back next year so be sure to mark your calendars for 2015 .

While the weather and course were perfect, my legs on race day were anything but. I had a feeling they wouldn’t be there for me considering the work I had done in the three days prior. But anything is possible and when birds are singing and I don’t have to wear arm or leg warmers to a race, it’s a good–no–GREAT day!

But when our alarm went off at 4:30 am (it’s a two hour drive to Urbana from Chicago) I was exhausted. JB on the other hand lept out of bed. I found him in the kitchen doing a little jig while waiting for the coffee to brew. JB loves to race and after sitting the last two out due to a crash, he was happy as a kid on Christmas morning. It was slightly annoying but he’s hot so I let it slide.

We packed up the car and rolled out of Chiberia at 6:45. I nodded off in the car on the way down. I never do that. I was REALLY tired.

Arrived at the park with plenty of time, got my numbers while JB set up the trainer, and then I set about getting into warm up mode. The warmup hurt! And then I started to get a little scared. The fatigue in my legs was too much to ignore. I actually thought I might get dropped, or worse, pulled from the race! I kept the warm-up short due to the fact that I decided to double up and do both the 3/4 and Open races–just a spin with some jumps.

Again, coach had instructed me to “have fun” and I did. In fact, during the race I was doing really well! Everything was great and I was having fun until…we crossed the finish line.

There’s really not too much to say about either race. The 3/4 race wasn’t terribly interesting–no serious attacks and a field sprint finish. (My awesome teammate took second! Huzzah!) The Open race had a couple breaks but I was too tired to worry about going with either one. The chase pack didn’t care about animating either and that was fine by me. As exhausted as I was, my goal for the open race was to sit in and just finish.

I’m not going to lie. Even though I knew deep down that a podium was not likely for me that day, it was heartbreaking to have my legs completely fail me during both sprint finishes. I mean, completely fail as in I tried to stand up to sprint and no amount of will power would allow my body to drive the bike forward standing on the pedals. Every time (I tried two or three times) to stand, my legs said, “NO!” And so it happened again. That place where I see wheels flying past me and I have no power to go with them.

I placed 9th out of 26 in the 3/4 race and 16 out of 22(?) in the Open race.

Sigh.

When I spoke with coach yesterday he said, “I don’t know why you think 9th is bad.” Really? When I was in position to take 5th or better, 9th feels pretty crappy.

So we talked about managing expectations for racing road when my focus, as I have exclaimed, is cyclocross. We talked about timing, positioning, power, and 12-second sprints. We talked about what it means to train to be a better athlete verses a better bike racer. We talked about riding single-track, two-wheel drift, and driving the bike. And when our conversation ended 30 minutes later, I reaffirmed that cyclocross is my focus and we should continue on that plan/path. Road will just have to be what it is right now–more about training than winning.

I’m okay with that because, OMG you guys! after all the plyo I have done over the past four months (and then some) I’ve gained so much power that come November, that I’ll be flying up Mt. Krumpit faster than you can say HUP! HUP! On the downside, my thighs are too big for my jeans, but that’s the price you pay for greatness, I guess.

So for now, I’ll keep my eye on the prize, stay patient, and trust in my training and my coach. Right now, for what I’m after, I am exactly where I need to be.