Sucking at Cycling, Part I

Where do I begin? It’s been less than a week since my last post, but for some reason it feels like an eternity.

Each day, I encounter blog-worthy material, but this week I’ve lacked the time or energy to write about it. I’ll do my best to recount the last few days in one post, but I have a feeling that sleep will intervene before I cover everything.

Let’s start with last weekend.

On Friday night, I was forced (read: someone asked me nicely) to attend a party for prospective UCSF graduate student interviewees. “Sure, I’ll come for a bit,” I said. I figured that I’d show up, schmooze the remarkably young-looking interviewees for an hour or two, and head home. After all, I had registered for a 7am ITT/TTT double-fister on Saturday morning, and the intelligent half of me wanted to get a good night’s sleep.

Unfortunately, the other “half” of me is more like 75%. Needless to say, I was at the party until 1:00am.

The day before a race, I try to open up my legs by riding for an hour with a few short, hard efforts. Last Friday, work kept me busy all day, and I was unable to sneak out for a ride before I was dragged to the recruitment party. However, that didn’t stop me from doing my pre-race warmup ride from 1:00am to 2:00am, on my trainer, with nothing but the darkness and a Hulu’d episode of The Bachelor for company.

After a late-night snack, a quick shower, and a three-hour nap, I was awake again. It was 5:45am as I pounded a 20 oz. Coke Zero, loaded my TT bike into my car, and headed to Canada road for a pair of quick, ten-mile time trials.

(from JP Images)

As you might infer from my facial expression, three hours of sleep is not optimal race preparation. To make matters worse, the man-sized lung named James Mattis (CalGiant) was scheduled to start only 30 seconds behind me. James may have beat me by 15 seconds, but he didn’t catch me, and I managed to set two new PRs in less than 6 hours: “Latest Training Ride” and “Fewest Hours Slept Before a Race.” In all honesty, I also felt pretty damn good for early February, and I was back in my San Francisco laboratory by 10am; in the grand scheme of things, the 13th of February was a success.

The following day, I reentered the world of XC MTB racing on a whim. Does this photograph look as ridiculous to you as it does to me?

(from Steve Anderson)

I have to say, I got crushed. I’m pretty sure I finished sixth out of about ten Pro-category riders. At the time, I felt like I rode a good race, but now that a week has passed I’ve come to realize that I got straight-up rocked. I stayed with the lead group for one lap (of five), then didn’t see another soul for the remainder of the race. I was alone with my overweight carcass, my overweight bike, and my overwhelming desire to drop out of the race when no one was looking.

In spite of how depressing that sounds, I had a great time and I certainly benefited from the high-intensity workout. What was not beneficial was my relapse into the XC MTB mindset; even during the race, I found myself contemplating upgrades to my 2002 vintage bicycle.

More than anything else, my return to MTB racing made me realize that my current lifestyle is not conducive to high-level competition. Judging by my post-race meal, courtesy of the Castroville 76 station, a major lifestyle change is not imminent.

Julien Absalon and Adam Craig, don’t worry. Your careers are safe for now. However, that King Size pack of Peanut Butter Cups and a bag of Corn Nuts is all that stands between me and a XC MTB World Championship.

The photograph above was taken as I recklessly wheeled my Prelude through the South Bay traffic on the way home, just before I received the following text message from a good friend and teammate of mine.

“Want to get some beers later?”

What ensued is worthy of its own post.

To be continued…

One response to “Sucking at Cycling, Part I

  1. Pingback: Sucking at Cycling, Part II « Counterattacking Reality

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