Tuesday, August 4, 2009

90% mental

Cycling is often considered to be simply a sport of the strongest legs wins, and it is often overlooked what has to be done before you have the chance to use those legs by putting yourself in the spot where you can race for the win. Yesterday was a day that brought that to light for me. Not my best on a bike, but I set myself a goal and never gave in. Super windy and tight course (bloody brilliant fun course actually) with a pretty solid Cat 1 field. Apparently last year only about 20 even finished, so I decided I wanted a top 20 today. From the gun I had some stomach issues, so took my time working up while everyone attacked. Generally in most of these races it is super fast from the gun as people are constantly on the attack, but legs are too fresh for the break to go directly. I knew on this tight course the group would not be shattered soquickly and moved up slowly until my legs came around just in time. The break is ALWAYS formed by small groups attacking that eventually stay away, the hard part is picking the right one. Especially when all the big teams have 9 riders each. I have slowly learned to not kill myself to get across the gaps and have taken to the french style of attacking the guy who tows you across (not actually, but I sit further back and follow this leap frog game from the shelter) and sometimes you make it, sometimes everyone sits up. It can be a cruel and frustrating game. In the end, I didn't make it into that lead group and was pretty upset by it, once its gone, its generally gone. And then I hit a bad patch. I suffered to my limits for 5 laps, each time wanting nothing more than to pull the plug, but unable to follow through. Until finally, although my legs seemed to have nothing, they also felt nothing. The last 5 laps were a blur. With 2 to go I attacked with 2 Aix en Provence, a VC la Pomme, and one other and we quickly built a lead on the peleton and starting pulling back stragglers from the lead group which had shattered in the wind. As we came to the final climb I placed myself well and managed to sprint for 2nd in our group and 27th overall. Not quite what I had hopped, but none the less, a day full of learning. There are still more races left, and hopefully days like this will pay off later down the line.

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