2017 OCUP #1: (Not So) Good Friday Road Race

Actually, Pretty Goddamn Bad Friday Road Race
I guess no matter what there will always have to be a race that stands out as your Worst Race Ever (that doesn't actually involve a crash). Until this season, for me that honour went to the first time I tried The Niagara Classic in 2014 – my first and only DNF in a stellar racing career otherwise studded entirely with Moral Victories and Lanternes Rouges.

Point "Y": The Zone of Despair and Shame
I’ll keep this one brief, because it’s not pretty and it’s not interesting. Last time I rode this race it was pretty good, I hung with the pack for three out of the four laps before being dropped (at point "Y") and shat out the back. This year it was the same story and same place, but in Lap One. Ouch.

Excuses excuses: I didn't get enough sleep. I didn't get a decent warm-up. The road was a mess, the riders were sketchy (OK, 3 good-sized crashes in my wave, no joke), I was nervous as fuck, I hadn't ridden at all the previous week, and I had no confidence in my Cycling-Gym-free Winter training regimen. In retrospect, I was beat before  I even got to the line.

But what actually killed me was getting stuck in the gutter, nose to the wind on Book Road, just as the pace jumped up after point "X" on the map. I couldn't get any shelter as a tightly packed line of riders to my left flowed past me. Bad, dumb, tactics-free, non-thinking racing. As I rounded the corner of Book Road and Trinity, the tail end of the peloton blew by me. My HR was at 95%, I was gassed and fading, and the bunch was pulling away in that slow, horrible, inexorable unbridgeable way that I know far too well. There was no way I would be able to get back on. I know what it felt like to to one lap of this thing as a solo time trial, having done it the previous time. I had no stomach for burning myself out for 3 laps and another moral victory. To finish 83rd, 20 minutes back. So I slunk into the pit, head hung in shame, hoping nobody I knew was in the bleachers to witness my ignominy (nope, sorry, not spared that either, there were a bunch of them there, thanks!) and found a Commisaire to scratch me from the race.

What followed was a a couple of hours of angst and shame, a few days of significant self-doubt, and a week of slow recovery to some kind of peace with the whole thing. As in: OK, if my training is that messed up, what can I do to salvage the rest of the season?

Turn out the answer was: go race in Calabogie.


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