Sunday, May 25, 2008


So today was my return to racing after a few weeks off - travel to see relatives, crazy work schedule, etc. have abated. After some stress that I had lost fitness over this period, my workouts this week convinced me otherwise. In fact, I think I may have benefited from the time off - my Tuesday and Thursday workouts felt surprisingly strong, and I had some "snap" back in the legs. Maybe time off (or slowing down) is helpful from time to time.

So on to today - the Barry Wolfe Memorial Grand Prix - I was excited to get back to racing to test the reality of where I am right now. And given how I felt staying up front in Torrance last month, I even started thinking I might round up a decent result. Well, bike racing is a complicated sport, and there is always an element of randomness that can lay waste to good plans (or hopes).

After arriving very early (racecourse is close for a change), getting good warmup, feeling great on the 1st 2 laps, and only hearing the first big crash of the day (it was behind me), I had a complete mechanical failure that ended my day. So 5 laps into this race, my left pedal essentially disintegrated, which forced my foot to unclip just when I applied the first real power. The force of the pedal failure nearly caused me to crash, and the racers behind me nearly ran me down.

This pedal problem is problematic - I use both legs, obviously, to get the most out of the pedal stroke. Also, I need to be able to pull AND push on the pedals to be efficient. Lastly, it was the left pedal that failed, which is the weight bearing pedal when I'm turning right (this course is a rectangle - all right hand turns). So I just pulled into the pits and dropped out.

This kind of thing happens from time to time, but it's still not fun. I gave up a decent amount of training this week to avoid being worn down, I got up early Sunday morning and left Jack behind to arrive for an 8:15am race, and I paid for a race that I hardly competed in. David Millar, of Slipstream-Chipotle fame, had a very untimely mechanical failure in the Tour of Italy last week that prevented him from winning a stage, so I guess I'm in good company.

Watching a race from the sidelines is kind of interesting. I didn't realize the carnage that occurs behind me - the very overweight guy who rode the first lap like a rabbit pulled out about 2 laps after me, several other guys just couldn't hang in. In that regard I feel OK about my ability to compete.

While the sideline view was kind of intriguing, I'm hoping next time I'll be racing instead.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Doldrums

Kind of like when a sailing ship loses any wind to propel it, this part of the season feels like the doldrums to me - my schedule is off, my training is lacking intensity, and I am not feeling entirely motivated. It's called being "in irons" in the sailing world, as I recall. No wind, no motion, just waiting around.

Ever since the Devil's Punchbowl Road Race I've had this problem. Now that I realize my training has not been good prep for road races, which I think I enjoy more than criteriums, I have imagined the rest of this season will be criterium-centric. That does not excite me too much, but maybe it will change when I get back into things this weekend at the Barry Wolfe Memorial in Woodland Hills. It's a close race, so no travel time at least. Speaking of travel, 2 successive weeks of family visits in the Midwest and East Coast really made a dent in my training too.

Training is getting to where it comes with more sacrifice. When Jack was 1 or 2 months old, he was staying up later into the night. I could ride after work and still have several hours of awake time. Now that he's almost 5 months old, he is going to bed at 7:30, and I'm finding I really would rather spend time w/ him than ride a pointless 45 minutes. It's hard to get anything accomplished in that time on the bike, and seeing Jack smile at me is taking more and more precedent. This was the case tonight. Beautiful weather, 72 degrees, no I chose to stay w/ Jack and see him off to bed. It just felt wrong to leave my smiling son behind to go train for these crazy races!

I'll try to get some intervals in Tuesday night, and also work to fit in the Camarillo Crit Practice on Thursday. Hopefully I'll have some legs left for Sunday's race, along with some renewed enthusiasm. A decent result would get things going...