Friday, July 3, 2009

Back in the Saddle

Well, it's been a few weeks since my crash and bruises have faded to a nice yellow and scabs have fallen off to reveal the rosiness of freshly formed skin. Recovering from a crash is tough. It's tougher than doing 2 hour's worth of lactate threshold intervals - probably because it's all a mental thing. Your body needs time to recover but your mind has gotten awfully accustomed to time in the saddle and the intensities of racing. If your not careful, it's really easy to slip into a funk.

And that's exactly where I found myself. In a funk. It kinda sneaked up on me, creeping into my psyche over the last 2 weeks. I found my motivation waning, I was eating more, the quantity of food wasn't really the issue, it was the quality (junk food city). I probably put on 15 pounds over the course of 3 weeks... Feeling like a lazy fat ass was all the motivation I needed to start training again. So off I went, logging a good 2 hour ride last Saturday.

To help things out, my beloved LOOK came back with a clean bill of health (thank the bicycle gods, since I couldn't even think of affording a new one right now). It's back on!

Well, fate had other plans. The job got hectic, and I had to put in some serious hours at the mill (my pet name for my job in advertising). Long hours at work = no training.

Our Thursday Night Worlds was coming up and nothing gets you motivated like a little racing. I decided that would be my come back, and despite my dilapidated fitness and form, I would just hang on as long as I could and get in a good workout.

For me, the first race back after a hard crash is always fraught with self-doubt. Will my nerves overcome my ability to race? Will I be able to ride at the same intensity? It's a struggle for me to put faith in something that has yet to be tested. Even if that thing is myself.

The Thursday Night Worlds race takes place on a car racing track so the pavement is great and plenty wide. A great venue for someone to get their race-legs back. I got there early and did a few warm up laps. Well, the LOOK wasn't doing so well... It seems that, despite the "clean bill of health", my rear derailleur was coming dangerously close to my spokes when in the upper cogs of my cassette. This in itself wasn't that big of a deal. To make matters worse, my chain was slipping in the top 5 (17 - 25 tooth cogs) of my ten speed cassette. I tried fiddling with the barrel adjuster on the derailleur, I even tried bending the derailleur back, all to no avail.

As if my post-crash nerves weren't bad enough, now I had to deal with technical problems nagging at the back of my mind. Great.

The race went off with out a hitch and I got in an early 4 man break (very early, about 1/2 a lap in). I had one team mate with me and all four of us took even pulls as we made our way around. We had a good 1/2 lap lead when me and one other rider (John from the Wolverine Cycling Club) started to fade. My teammate and the other rider pulled away and there wasn't a damn thing I could do about it. It was John and I pulling each other around the track for the next 45-60 minutes, while the inevitability of the encroaching pack loomed a turn or two behind us.

Neither of us had the strength to keep them at bay, and, as we approached a long windy straight, we were swallowed up and spit out the back.

From then on, it was just a matter of survival and I managed to latch on to the back of a group of stragglers for a lap or two only to be shelled out the back as my calves cramped up. I was cooked. I threw it into the 39 and spun the remaining laps until I got lapped (and pulled) with two laps remaining. Welcome back.

Even though the outcome wasn't what I wanted, this race definitely served it's purpose. Consider the cobwebs blown off and my funk officially de-funked.

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