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.


Brian Morrissey said...

That sucks. Cycling interests me, in part, because of the mechanical stuff. I imagine cyclists are maniacal about the gears and whatnot because things can wrong so easily.(I seem to remember Lance nearly losing a Tour when he slipped out of his pedal after falling. If he's broken the thing, well, it might all be different.) And it happens. As a runner who has experienced far too many mechanicals, I say just roll with it and come back stronger the next time Frustrating, nonetheless.

Jean said...

One silver lining -- the race counted toward your goal of 10 for the year.

Oh yeah -- and Jack and I got to see you earlier than expected. Fun.