Sunday, December 11, 2016

Everything Counts

[editor's note: I thought I'd already published this, but when I when to write about yesterday's race, there it sat as a draftI.]

"everything counts in large amounts..."

"the grabbing hands grab all they can" -- except, of course, when they can't

I did it, again.
I took the fight to the home team. Still looking to improve my call-up for Nationals, I drove up to RI for the second day of Warwick. As with Suffern, I hoped for a good result against some of the boys I'll be racing at Nationals and who are currently staged ahead of me. As with Suffern, things didn't pan out at all the way i thought they would.

I felt good. No, I felt great. I had new confidence. I'd recently hired a coach*. He's awesome; smart, funny, gets me and my idiosyncrasies -- which are many. I was crushing my workouts. I'd just won a race.


I'd forgotten about New England's damp cold. I'd forgotten how, when I lived in New England, I liked to tell anyone who'd listen that New England is probably the strongest area for cyclocross in the country.

Hitting the fence. Rebecca Lewandowski captures
moment just before fence and I go down.
Photo: Rebecca Joy Lewandowski
I usually start well, but against this field, I quickly found myself outside the top 10. I worked my way up and thought I was about 6th or so and then the wheels started to fall. Not literally, but I'm not sure it would have been much worse if they had actually fallen off. Wearing my favorite race gloves that look oh-so-much-cooler than my heavier winter gloves in 39 degF weather, it wasn't long before I couldn't feel my fingers. this started to impact my shifting, braking, and even steering. Because i couldn't -- and didn't -- shift as naturally as I normally do, basically without thinking, I often found myself in the wrong gear and struggling to push too big gear. First or second lap, I ran into one of the metal fencing units that defined a sharp 180 degree turn after a fast downhill where you gained a fair amount of speed just before a quick up to this turn. I knocked the fence over and lost spots.

Later, I went down on turn before that same road downhill and lost spots. At one point during the race, Sam M., my old friend from Cohasset, tried to help calm me, saying, "Settle down, Kevin" as I weaved wildly all over the course. But, most infuriatingly, on the last lap, I tripped on the planks. I had clipped them several times during the race, which is a total first. But, on the last lap, as I battled with Eric S. for spots and points, my shoe caught the first barrier and I went down hard. My bike landed on top of me and I lost still more spots.

Talking with my new coach after the race, we didn't even talk about the frozen fingers. He pointed out that the openers I'd done the day before were far too taxing, that i probably didn't replace enough calories in the meals between the openers and the race, and that, in addition to impacting the engine, those factors would like have starved the brain of much needed carbs. This would also explain the horrible driving skills i exhibited this day.

I'm disappointed with the result. But I continue to learn. Everything counts; preparation, diet, training, even -- or perhaps, especially -- mental state. I'm still learning.

*Kyle Wolfe at Finish Fast Cycling. If you're looking for coaching services, check him out. He's pretty awesome.

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