Saturday, April 5, 2014

Sometimes you just have a bad day.

Today's race in the Volta Limburg Classic did not go well for me. But I'll get to that in a minute.

Yesterday did not start off so well for me, either. I won't be returning to Lucca until June, so I spent a good deal of time the night before I left packing very carefully. I went to bed 98% packed--all that remained was my computer and toiletries. I even had my clothes for the following day laid out. It would be a fairly early morning and I didn't want to feel rushed.

I set 2 alarms for 6am and 6:05 with plans to be out the door at 6:45, having showered and eaten.

I haven't slept through an alarm since college. And to top it off, I'm a morning person. My body clock always--always--tries to beat the alarm, waking up every 20 minutes for the hours preceding an early wakeup. Even without an alarm, I'm an early riser.

The barking dog upstairs was weird because they never let him out on the balcony so early. And it was awfully light in my room for 6am.... It was 7:18.

Full panic mode.

The train to Pisa that I wanted to be on left 10 minutes earlier, and my last-chance train departed in 22 minutes. The train station is a brisk 15 minute walk, and I still had to buy a ticket.

Somehow I got out the door in 7 minutes dressed, with a little food in my bag, and even remembered to take out the trash. I haven't gone running once this year, but I definitely did some jogging yesterday. Stepped onto the platform just as the train pulled up, eventually arriving at my flight's gate with 10 minutes before boarding. Sometimes life is more exciting than you intended!

On arrival in Holland, Lawson and I got in an hour-long spin. I did a short effort to test the legs and open up a bit but didn't really push myself. As smoked as I was at the end of Catalunya, I wanted to give my body one more day of rest.

Any cyclist worth his salt is capable of weaving a tapestry of excuses as to why he failed to perform to his or others' expectations. Any good cyclist is at least honest with himself, but can always muster up some excuse to present to others. What follows is my explanation of a very disappointing race for me.

In the 5 days since Catalunya, I've totaled a bit over 4 hours on the bike, all easy. I definitely needed the rest. But for the race today, I definitely needed some openers. You can't just go from hard racing, total rest, and then race again and expect the body to jump right back. It usually takes a day of pushing to get up and running again. To perform well today, I needed to have done a few hours with some intervals yesterday.

I don't know why, but I started the race feeling quite bloated. I had a standard breakfast this morning, of both the quantity and quality I've had all year, and it was finished 3 hours before the race.

Our squad at the race contained no single favorite, so our tactic was to be active in breakaways on a tough, rolling course. I was definitely excited to get in on the action.  Then the race started. I wasn't as far up as I wanted to be. The whole day would be narrow roads and hundreds of little hills. Without decent openers the day before, I would be fine on sustained climbs but not with 30 second sprint intervals on every hill.

We hit the first hill and started sprinting. My heartrate hit the roof and I felt like I might throw up. So I gave up any thought of moving up until I felt better. For 70km I kept waiting to feel better. I would try to get to the front, but the effort would send my heart wild. I couldn't stomach any food or drink, yet was constantly burping. To make things even better, I was a snotty mess. The spring is blooming so wildly that my nose is constantly running.

I knew that nearly 2 hours of really hard racing without eating and drinking only half a bottle would cost me at some point, and right around that time the race exploded and I was at the back. My race was over.

I planned to just ride to the feed zone and pull out. It was about 28km ahead, so I waved off the broomwagon and was joined by another racer and some locals. It's good that I had company, as it could have been very interesting for me alone. The race arrows for the turns were small red signs, which are all but invisible to me against the green countryside. So I was fortunate to have company who knew the roads and could see the signs.

We were misdirected by a course marshall at some point, doing a bonus 5k or so, but eventually arrived at the feedzone. It was such a nice day, though, and the camper was at the finish, so I and my new buddy (who actually used to be a teammate of Tom Domoulin's years ago) kept going. I ended up riding 130km today, just under 4 hours. Actually a really nice day! The race went about the same for the rest of the team--only Lawson and Thomas finished, and Thomas was rewarded by being crashed by others.

Just a few days from now, I race Circuit de la Sarthe, a race that I can do well at (and it has a time trial!). The good news is that I'm well rested after Catalunya, and after today, I've done my openers.