Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Reflection (and lots of food)

First I must start out by declaring that I am The Iron Chef... Yesterday I pulled off another one of my stellar turkey dinners without any major hitches. I tend to make the dinner for my wife's family on Xmas day and yesterday was larger than normal with a total of 14 planned diners (2 last minute no-shows). Thank goodness for my father-in-law who manages the carving and serving of the bird once I have cooked it, but otherwise it's all me. Any I have a really tiny kitchen so this is no small feat. A small part of me thinks I could enjoy cooking if I had the time to do it. It'd also give me more motivation to train since I'd be fattening myself up...

Ok, the reflection part... Hey, everyone's doing it... I wanna be one of the cool kids. It's the end of the season so it's time to look back and think ahead. I've got plenty to look back on and some permanent reminders of the season that was...

This was definitely a season of painful and expensive lessons. I trashed one helmet, one frame, 4 wheels, 2 or 3 sets of bars, a few components, and my body. The crashology went like this:

1/10 - Highly dramatic faceplant while mountain biking

4/26 - Sentra vs. Commuter

4/28 - Sturbridge. I should be far more grateful than I am that I didn't break anything and that my ruptured groin tendon/muscle thing didn't keep me down for longer

6/17 - The Father's Day Wells crash. At least I wasn't the guy who lost his teeth. I walked away from my bike for about 10 days after this

7/8 - The broken hand the day before family vacation ultimately resulting in 3 titanium screws and 9 weeks without riding. At least I got in 90 minutes of riding between breaking it and packing it in for the day

So what is there that's positive about this trainwreck of a season? Well, for starters, I did 14 cross races without a noteable incident. Sure there were a few of the silly fallover types of things that are just part of the game, but nothing worth noting. Secondly, the few races I did complete taught me so much more than I knew... hell, even a couple of the races I crashed out of taught me a lot. I can now recognize much better where to be, when to go, when to sit back, etc. The game of road racing makes a little more sense now so it's just a shame that I'm going to be pack shy for a bit until I make it through a few races in one piece. I also know a lot more about what I am able to do. I hung in a couple of road races much better than expected and I still think I could have won Sturbridge. I podiumed in a MTB race which I still think I suck at. I know that in a cross race everyone in front of me better watch out in the final couple of laps because I'm coming to get ya (lord know what would happen if I knew how to start and there was nobody to catch). So trying to ignore the scars and look forward, I think these are my goals:

- Not crash. Sure this is partially joking, but I think what I mean is to be smarter about where I am and what I'm doing so that I minimize my chances of getting taken out. If I was at fault in my road crashes this year, it was because I put myself in a less than optimal position. Any offroad crashes were pure operator error.

- Suck less off-road. This will be a matter of practice and building confidence for me. I find that a lot of off-road crashes can be caused by being too careful (braking when you don't need too, etc).

- Win a race. Road, MTB, Cross... doesn't matter.

- Finish Great Glen... and despite CTodd's urging, no, it won't be solo. Having retired from Reach the Beach, this will be my bout with epic stupidity for this year.

- Bike to work at least once a week for the entire duration of daylight savings. Target will be 2-3 times, but I'd like to make once a requirement.

So that's my line in the sand subject to being crossed or erased by the tides. Let's hope blogger doesn't eat the post so I can go back next year and see how I did.


solobreak said...

Fuck dude crashing = not cool.

Road racing looks like it's safer than getting out of friggin' bed for you. Really it is.

People get killed when they're out training, but they still train. Hardly anyone ever gets killed in a crit (especially by a car) yet people think crits are dangerous and avoid them. Crits are actually quite safe.

Road races have you out there with the cars. Descents can be extremely dangerous, but we just block that part out because crashes are rare. And it's still a lot safer than doing those same descents when the roads are "totally open" i.e. in training. That's what really scares me. I go on training rides and people start doing the descents in a full tuck like they have a pace car up there or something. That's a good way to get killed. Unless you've pre-ridden a stretch to check it for debris, and there is no traffic, you have to reign it in on the big downhills.

As for getting taken down in little pack crashes, sure, it's all positioning. Sometimes you have to sacrifice your finish. The pack mentality takes over and people start riding way over their heads. If you back off, you're a wuss, and you won't win that day, but sometimes it's the smart thing to do. I ride with these guys all year and I know how good they are. And how good they aren't. Sometimes you smell a crash and then it doesn't happen. Oh well, you lose. In general, as long as it's really fast and strung out, be aggressive and race hard for position. When it gets slow and surgy (which is about 75% of the time), you may need to re-evaluate your strategy if self-preservation is a priority. Either roll the dice and attack, go to the front and pace it up and hope your teammates come through, or sit up and roll in while you're still in one piece. Or, go nuts, mix it up, use your size and hope for the best. If you have great speed, those are the races for you. Good luck!

CTodd said...

If you don't do GG solo, then do another 24H solo.