Friday, April 4, 2008

From the DNF to the DFL

It might not seem it, but it's a long way from DNF to DFL.
Setting your goals for the season can be tough. You have to be realistic
and still give yourself something to struggle towards. So maybe to some
the goal of "Go from DNF to DFL" might seem like a gimme or not a worthy
challenge, but given my sporadic and unsuccessful history with racing, it
was the place to start.
As my first race of the year approached, I had the usual nerves. Have I
lost enough weight?, Have I trained enough? Too little base? Too much? Too
little intensity??. I had just gotten my bike back from the shop and
wanted to test it out before my big day. Luckily around here there are
several training races to choose from. So to give myself a test, I signed
up for one a week before my first scheduled race. This would give me a
chance to make sure I could find my license and get all my pre race
routines back in order. (My OCD level issues with pre-ride routines are
pretty comical-unless you live with me). Also if the bike was fubar'd I
could have week to get it straightened out.

First 3 laps all I could think was this sucks and why did I drive an hour
to turn right on a one mile loop? 8 mile warm up was fine and the pace
wasn't crazy, but it was little nervous and it kept bunching up. How many
times are they going to keep yelling "hole" and "sand right". They have
been in the same place every lap. At least it was a 10AM start, so I
wasn't up at the crack of dawn.
After about 10 laps, I was pleasantly surprised to still be racing and to
being able to move around the bunch pretty easily-the back of the bunch.
There was a big right hand turn at the end of the lap and no one had
crashed on it. Had to sprint out of the corner up a slight hill, but it
wasn't so bad even after a 15+ laps. No real excitement until the last
lap when the pace heated up-don't no who lifted the tempo cause I
was drifting back. Going, Going, Gone. Rolled across the line a few
seconds in arears. Not sure what place. If the race was a lap shorter
I might have known, but I didn't really care.
Mission accomplished. Race finished. Check of the goal of the season, DFL
accomplished. But in reality this was just a "training race" and not one of my preselected targeted races so I can't gloat yet. Hopefully my luck holds til next weekend......
Part II
Marblehead, oh Marblehead. 2 mile circuit on the water with a headwind somewhere(guaranteed). This year the wind was on the short side of the course-the run in to the big corner. Not so bad, except for the cold.
4/5 field of 75 guys. Seemed like maybe 40 of them on Cervelos. My last time here I got dropped early and got yanked after 3 laps so I was ready for revenge, but nervous as hell. Birthday margaritas the night before were a risky proposition, but I managed to behave. Did I mention it was cold? 28 when I started "warming up". Race was not super aggressive, no real attacks til about 6-7 laps in. Pace kept yo-yo'ing and crashes seemed imminent. No one seemed to be pushing the pace and it would slow down up every incline. I missed one crash early on, but my luck didn't last. Last lap just as it was starting to speed up about 6 guys went down in front of me, dodged right, jumped back left, and then laid down for a minute. My feet were so cold I was trying to unclip and they weren't responding-so down I went. No mechanical and no injuries, but also no hope of catching the bunch. My chances of contesting a top 30 finish were dashed!! Rode it in to ensure I got placed, and then let out a big exhale. Finished! Not even DFL! Revenge exacted and now I have the rest of the day to gloat, buy bike parts, and scheme about my next race.
Checked the results and I managed a middle of the road 35th place. Can't complain. Other people finishing 35th this weekend included Dave Zabriskie so I'm in good company.

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