|St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, Brea CA February 9, 2003 |
I ran into a guy this weekend whose race kit had "www.stoopidsport.nim" on the back of the shorts. I had to ask, what does it mean??? He said "Only a NIM IDIOT would participate in such a STOOPID SPORT! 150 guys pay $15 to race for $150? IDIOTS!" Of course, he was one of the stupid guys in the 40+ race this past weekend. Have you ever seen 150 people on a 0.6 mile course? It's incredible that only a couple guys went down in every field. Only one had to be carted off in an ambulance. It got me to thinking. Why exactly do we race bikes? Why do we sacrifice all our vacation days to drive to industrial parks and ride in circles? Why do we race in all weather, clear and foul, warm and cold, dry and torrential downpour? Why do we tithe hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year to a sport to earn an occasional pittance in a field sprint? Why put up with the afternoon seething portapot mountains and hours of bad 80's music?
In short, it's because of the kind of feeling I woke up with this morning. The feeling of a slight endorphin hangover, a sense of accomplishment, the warm buzz in the legs that means you worked hard. It's because you get to remember going fast, really fast, not out of control, but with skill and grace. Because it's like flying, diving into turns at 30mph and feeling the grip of the tires on the road, feeling relaxed, concentrated, and full of adrenaline all at the same time. It's because of the Zen of bike racing. You're completely in the moment and nothing else exists except the space in front of you, the movement of your legs and the sound of your own breathing.
That's all that matters. It helps that I met a couple SoCal women who were nice to me. Maybe last week was a fluke. It helped that it was a superbly gorgeous day for a race, dry, 60's, sunny, light breeze. It helped that the race was very well run, that the course was clean and wide, and that it wasn't my first race of the season. The women's field was smaller than last week, only 27 or so, but still very animated. The Hi-Tech bikes team was 5 strong or better, and Red 5 had at least 4 women. They both spent the race attacking, but when none of their moves stuck, they made sure it all came down to a field sprint. Lynn Gaggioli made mincemeat of them all to win, and without any teammates!
I was happy just to feel like I was racing again. I went into the race with the goal of just holding a good position. When I was there, I found out that that's where all the fun is. I was able to go with a couple breaks, bridge up to one more, go for a prime, and even sprint at the end. I didn't get the prime, which I really wanted because it was two free entries to the HiTech Bikes World Cup Qualifier at the San Diego Velodrome. I got beat out by a trackie, appropriately. I only got 8th in the sprint, but it was great to feel fast again, to feel like a bike racer and not just some schmuck riding in the back of the pack. It was thrilling to be near the front with 2 laps to go and to take the turns so fast that I was very nearly at the limit of what the tires could do. I lost some ground behind the wrong woman at a crucial moment in the second to last turn and was out of the sprint for the money, but came across the line quite pleased with the race.
Like last week, I raced with the 30+ 3/4 men for training later on. This was a big field, 86 guys. It was really smooth, and although I had to sprint to keep up every single lap up the slight incline on the back of the course, I managed to stay in the pack the whole time and not get dropped. I even had enough breath to crack jokes with the guys (or at their expense). I tried to stay in the front half, but kept getting shuffled back and had to dive on the inside of turns to move up. After a while, I decided to be safe and just hang out. As the race progressed, it was an increasingly good call, as I avoided a nasty crash with 2 to go (hooray for the inside line) and made it through two 40 minute crits in one day all skin intact. Average speed in the women's crit, 24mph. Average in the men's, 26mph. Nothing like a good day of speed work! Ahhhhh... Bike racing. Yes, we're all idiots, but we're never bored.
Women’s Cat 1,2,3 (21 riders)
1. Lynn Gaggioli Four Winds
2. Becky Quinn Women First/Red 5
3. April Henderson Team Helens
4. Lisa Hefferman Hi-Tech Bikes
5. Alexandria Tabata Team Velocity
6. Betsy Bloom Women First/Red 5
7. Karen Wooten Ranchos
8. Laura Weislo Squadra Coppi
9. Shannon Whitlatch Fred Myer
10. Anna Webb Hi-Tech Bikes
11. Laura Perdew Hi-Tech Bikes
12. Cathy Keeley Amgen/Abici
13. Michelle Webster Women First/Red 5
14. Lisa Tonello Cyclone
15. Laure Furman Hi-Tech Bikes
16. Alisha Lopez Lightning Velo
17. Tammy House Hi-Tech Bikes
18. Ericka Schwarz Women First/Red 5
19. Carla Hukee Team Zombies
20. Melanie Ochoa Velo Allegro
Laura Weislo’s webpage can be seen here.
Until next time.