I left the group and became "mr. 83" (out of 106), "mr. 9000 ft" (out of 1000), "mr. laying on the couch watching basketball" (rather than eating yesterdays pizza at Casey's). On my way back to Shockey's house, riding alone, I contemplated the finances of quitting cycling. I figured the value of each of my bikes, the savings on travel, what it would feel like to spend my days drinking and eating. I thought about Laura and the dogs, all the time I don't spend with them in order to race. I considered the effects of riding on my health; is endurance riding good or bad in that respect? I decided it was probably killing me slowly.
I was ready to pack up and go home and be done with it all. I showered for what felt like an hour, turning my thoughts over and over in my head. What had happened to me the last two weeks? I knew that my problems were partly due to a bad bike setup and a bad decision to leave my Jandd frame bag at home and to wear a backpack. My back was cramping and tight to the point of forcing me to quit. Regardless I felt so bad that I didn't think it could all be blamed on my bike, however convenient that might be.
Since that road race I had won in Hills I had taken a rest week then raced on Saturday. A race that went so poorly that I actually got off my bike during the first lap and started walking to my car. I'd known that there was something wrong with THAT (even though I had come back to get 3rd in the 4/5s that day) and taken ANOTHER rest week. Now here I was again, quitting. Was this just not fun anymore? Was I burnt out? Was I sick? What the fuck was going on?
I knew I couldn't just leave- my friends would be back soon and I'd look like a fool. I watched basketball.
We went to The Oaks for dinner and drinks. There was some sort of an "Upper Iowa NASCAR Racing Banquet" going on. We had a great time, too good of a time considering the 65 mile ride planned for Sunday morning. I didn't care, I was still looking for an excuse to skip it. We made it back to Shockey's much too late.
In the morning we got breakfast and then suited up for another day of riding. No backpack, no cx bike today. I rode the commuter with everything I needed in pockets.
Everything was different. The weather was beautiful, I was riding with friends, I was comfortable. I became stronger with each mile. By the end I felt almost normal. I was able to push, felt ready for the future.
I think I learned something about the importance of bike setup- but maybe it was more about being humble. I had taken for granted that I could ride the, very difficult, 106 mile route without "trying". I should have had my frame bag, I should have adjusted the fit of the bike after cyclocross season for more comfort, I should have changed to a wider range cassette for the almost constant climbs. I shouldn't have ridden 50 miles the afternoon before. I shouldn't have slept so little during the week. I'd set myself up to fail because I thought I was too strong to fail. Lesson learned. Looking back now I realize I'd likely just caught a bit of a cold, had a bad weekend last week and then made a bunch of mistakes leading into this century.
I also learned something about friends- Saturday night and the Sunday ride redeemed everything. Thank you! By Sunday night I was looking to ride more- went for a cruiser ride through the city as the sun set. Rode my bike to work today, likely hitting the road for a long ride Wednesday morning.
In less emotional news-
They upgraded me to Cat 4, so I'll be able to compete as a 4 at the Durand and Sogn Valley road races.
As a reward for reading this far (I know I wouldn't have)- I'm going to let you know that the picture that made my blog pg13 has now been put back up... scroll down if you missed it before. I take no blame if you are disappointed, you probably will be as it's not that great nor all that offensive.