Experience(s)

There is nothing comparable to a first-hand experience….

The other day I was reaquainted with a former co-worker turned close friend. While he reminded me of what a realist I can be, he also mentioned how dark things can get and how it’s too much for him to handle. Naturally I took this as a flattering compliment but began to reflect on just what it is that makes the things I have to say so hard to digest. I try and keep the raunchy language to a minimum. My subject material while may not be family oriented necessarily is still on relatable topics. Ah! I think I understand now.

I can remember conversations with friends where I describe where my dark humor comes from. I try and find the line that separates what is too far and what is acceptable and find a comfortable medium on the fence between the two. There are times in which the line is undefined, in which I need to cross it to know where it lays. I would be lying if I surprised myself with disapproval in how far said line has been disregarded. Needless to say, I get a kick out of the obscure and all that makes us feel uncomfortable a primary social level. To expand on this idea, I am also open to considering any and all opposing arguments to almost all topics of discussion in hopes to find a balance to those who require balancing. Stay with me here. I am snowballing to a view I hold dearly that puts all these ideals into practice that I believe will enlighten those who may or may not live more restrictive lifestyles.

As the title of this blog suggests, experiences are a vital part of human (and all other species) development. If right now you are completely lost by all of the above mentioned speech, I offer you a phrase that may get you back on track. We learn from our mistakes. Not only do we learn from our mistakes, but we retain more learned information from our mistakes. If you consider yourself more easy-going and liberal in the learning process, then like me, you will be open to the idea of making mistakes to learn from. For most of us twenty-somethings, we’ve experiences the effects of consuming certain drugs or alcohols to intolerable levels. This may or may not result in dire consequences like legal infractions and public embarrassment. Thankfully for a personality such as myself, personal embarrassment is just as potent as embarrassment from the public. I sometimes catch people giving me odd faces when I show a look of interest when sharing tragic and unfortunate stories of loss and unfortunate circumstances. When asked why, my go-too response is that it’s a story to tell. If something bad has happened to you, you have a better chance at remembering it on your own than if everything goes honky-dory. I cannot begin to describe how thankful I am of my self-aware (and borderline insecure) tendencies keep me in check from making a fool out of myself. That being said, I am able to realize what a learning experience loss and failure can bring.

Having considered starting a colony of my own with a relationship that didn’t work out so well, I cannot help but notice parents and their behaviors with and without their kids. I’ve come to a consensus that the majority of parents in southern California want to steer their kids in the right direction until the time comes when they are physically and mentally prepared to make decisions for themselves. It is here where the lines begin to blur and one parent’s judgment of whether a child is old enough may be different than another’s. Thus leading to restrictive practices that I frankly can’t help but disagree with. If a bad experience results in the most amount of information retained with the least amount of redundance, then why not make this the standard parenting principle?

Right away I acknowledge that this is a radical view and can be fatal, or seriously harmful for the subject no matter the age. When scenarios reach extremes such as these, by all means, show them the way and keep that beating heart alive. Having said that, most other matters should be brushed aside in my opinion.

Having been raised by parents whose diets resemble that of teenagers, I was given no dietary restrictions as a child. Growing up in a household such as this made things less stressful and more enjoyable for a kid like myself who moved around and eventually no longer remained and only child, and underwent a separation of the two birth givers. To this day I can nearly recall the exact moment in which I decided that I need to get my life in check on a dietary nutritional level. During the transition from junior high to high school, I can remember consuming some type of fast food in which eating made my mood feel worse than before I had ate it. This on top of the social expectations that were stirred up by others on the proper way to behave in high school sparked a growing change in my character. As a result, I have made a drastic change in what I choose to put in my body. My parents sadly (mainly my father) have not changed much of anything in regards to their diet and exercise level and now are suffering the long-term consequences of said decisions.

Even on an emotional level I have learned that my parents’ way of showing affection was through jest in public settings made me realize that public displays of affection and any type of cheesy and raunchy forms of showing someone you admire their beauty give me legitimate anxiety and inevitable sadness. They didn’t refrain from showing their friends all the cool tricks they could make me do by reciting who the greatest dad in the world was in front of all to see. This attempt at justifying creating a child (a task nearly anyone, no matter the age or mental maturity) if attempted in the present day, will be responded with scorn and disgust. The point I am getting at is that all of these are experiences that I have learned from and shall never forget.

Experiences like these do not require constant reminders such as, “Don’t go out partying with those friends of yours” or “Don’t start drinking if someone offers you anything.” On the contrary, it’s crucial experiences such as these that our youth can learn from the most by having less restrictions. Parents love to pitch this romantic idea of them explaining to their kids all the troubles they’ve gone through to their kids and how their kids should retain all the information their parents choose to share as if gold was spewing from their mouths in a time of financial hardship and expect to be told one time and go on about their lives. The majority of the parenting experience is repeating yourself over and over again. What human being with a brain in their head genuinely believes that all of a sudden it isn’t going to take hundreds of attempts just to make something stick? I see young adults today working at a job they don’t favor and treat like a secondary priority and presume that once their big-time career they’ve been planning to do for the rest of their lives is going to spark some sudden change in behavior.

We are all grown adults here. Therefor we can all agree that the majority of us are creatures of habit. After a certain age (I believe it’s 25. Don’t ask me how I know) it becomes significantly difficult to incorporate new habits into our lifestyles. That being said, why not try a different tactic to solidify true and positive change in one’s character? Just because alternative practices may not be socially accepted doesn’t mean they are completely ineffective. Hell, there are people who still beat their kids because they believe it works over other teaching techniques. If there are still ignorant humans out there that still do this, why not consider other options in incorporating change to those around you big and small? Much like the drug addict that needs to hit rock bottom in order to change their ways, we too as sober (or maybe not sober) human beings may require such drastic changes to lock in genuine good.

That’s what’s been on my mind these past few days. That and an all too familiar sense of wanting to distance myself from everybody and feel numb in my own personal space. All of my thoughts and views reflect my personal character and allow me to truly identify who I am as a person. It may be too much to handle for some, and that is their own personal problem. For those that can stomach the subject matter, you are one step closer to an enlightened state. Until next time….

-dfj

Restarting from the Bottom

I would be lying if I said bike racing wasn’t difficult. Much like the starving student taking eighteen units on top of balancing an underpaid, full-time job and a somewhat normal social life, or the entrepreneur who spending well over twelve hours building the foundation for the next big craze that might alter the way in which we live our lives, the life of an athlete requires equal parts time and effort. Success can be measured in many different ways. Some feel that if you’re not wanting to pull your hair out in stress in your twenties then you’re doing it wrong (keep me away from these folks.) While others would argue that if there is no physical or mental pain and suffering to break your down only to rebuild yourself back up again, no trueachievements can be obtained. While I biasly side with the latter of the two, I recognize that we as a society are contributing relative amounts of energy into bettering ourselves and those around us in pursuit to a higher standard of success.

This is becoming more and more clear in my world of cycling. I have now experienced a criterium and a road race in my now more familiar category. Provided the road race was one of the most difficult in the beginning of the season, I humbly accept that I once again need to be broken down only to be rebuilt to a higher, (lighter, faster, stronger) standard. After I was shelled out the back of yesterday’s race, I got a bit excited about whats to become of me once I keep up throwing myself in with the faster groups. Much like wrestling in high school, after you compete with those who are clearly better than you for long enough, you for one:

  1. Learn how to take a beating
  2. Eventually gain the chops to defend and establish yourself as a worthy peer

We all have heard of success stories of those gifted souls who move through the ranks in a short amount of time. As romantic an idea this may seem, the likelihood of this outcome is unrealistic to expect (unless you have the genes to back it up.)  Last year there was a part of me that became frustrated that progress was not tangible and I seemed to have hit a plateau I did not know how to escape. I believed I was that person capable of moving through the ranks in one swift movement. As age has made a bigger presence in my life, I have reached a calmer state of mind and am willing to take the time to settle in and become more developed as a whole. I have yet to find a specialty in which I am best suited for in the world of cycling. This means that I get to try my hand with the climbers and sprinters respectfully. I like to think that I can compete on both fronts without feeling completely handicapped due to whatever type of body composition I may have at any given point in time (which currently is slightly overweight and lacking in power.)

Now I get to spend the most amount of time competing with others by participating in both fields of expertise. Crit pace and road race pace are two completely different animals. Both have surges in the pace but favor one body type over another. I like to compare this experience to being put through a gauntlet. In wrestling, you knew you were going to be pushed mentally and physically to a point that was beyond your comfort zone. Your body and mind would plead for mercy in order to sustain a homeostatic balance. You knew you were going to become very emotional at one point in time. Much like what I imagine life in the military is like, you would also develop a healthy sense of fear from not knowing what would come next. Yes, we all expected this on a daily basis. As traumatic as this may seem, the most important part I want to emphasize is that we all accepted this.

Yes this is going to suck. Yes we are going to be in a lot of pain. Yes we may not be able to live up to a certain standard and thereby be punished for it on top of our overwhelming training. Yes this would alter our character for the rest of our lives. And yes, we will continue to put ourselves in this situation in hopes to achieve greatness. This was my attitude in the past, and is rekindling itself in the present.

Settling into this new category has it’s benefits. While I’m not in a hurry to move on through, I know this is a phase and the time to move on will come eventually. As of right now, I am here for the ride.

-dfj

Recon Race Report

Rush home, gather things for work/ breakfast, ride to work, settle in to work environment, let the caffeine ware off and relax….

Let’s get right into it shall we?

I didn’t have a clear game plan as far as my first race in a new category was concerned. After picking the brains of those who have (and are currently) racing in the 3’s, I still find myself trying to fully absorb and acknowledge everything that was said. I had a few expectations as anyone in their right mind would. Things like, “how much faster and aggressive are things going to be?” And “Is this new race duration going to be that big a difference. Alas, I had made it my new goal to collect as much data as possible for the race.

In doing so, I took a more submissive role during the race in an attempt to get a feel for the way other riders behaved. Some of the key details I’ve discovered are as follows:

Speed
My fitness from training and racing this year has transferred over well. I’m not putting in 24 hour weeks on the bike anymore, and when I go hard, I make sure that it is with a purpose, when I’m fresh, and that I get plenty of time to rest afterwards. 12 hours a weeks seems to be appropriate at this point in time. Perhaps when things get a long longer in time and distance I might need to up the ante.

Everyone mentions that the pace is a lot smoother in the 3’s. I can confirm this. That’s not to say that no one at the race hit their brakes at any point in time. I’m convinced that every race is going to be surge at different points in time. This time around, the differences in speed aren’t as severe in the earlier categories. Some people still ease on the brakes before hitting sharper corners (as they should) but go right back to the steady pace that would make one question their decision to get up front and make a move.

Duration
This wasn’t as big of a deal as I thought. That being said, my laid back approach to the race had me mid pack the majority of the time. There were a few times where I made advances in the wind to keep a good position, but never felt too winded afterwards. I find that I care most about the numbers I’m getting from power and cadence. When you find a balance between the two that fits your riding style, everything else is relative and less important (in the race setting.)

Since my race time nearly doubled from my past two races, I felt like the added time keeps things more under control. I found myself thinking, “you mean we have 45 more minutes of this left?!” Not because I was tired. Riding in circles can put a mental damper on you that may or may not transfer to your riding. My landmark turned into the 25 minute mark because that is the usual length of time my previous category races for. Once we hit that, I still felt like I had the legs to do well when the time came. Thus leading me to my final observation.

Riding Behavior
At this point in one’s cycling career, we have had our share of races we’ve participated in. If you’re like me and upgraded through number of races, you certainly have enough races under your belt to get an idea of the flow of a race. With the number of races comes experience and comfort. In this category there are many riders who are comfortable in their abilities.

I’ve seen some sketchy riders throughout the years. So has everyone else in my category. The difference is they’ve learned to adapt to the ebb and flow of things. Some may touch, and some may bump. Almost everyone gets a little upset, but very rarely is there a moment of panic and unsafe behavior as a result. This is an accepted part of racing, the likes at which I still find myself learning to accept.

I tried to tell myself that this was going to happen days before the race. However it’s one thing to say such things, and another to be able to perform them. So much social conditioning has taught us to avoid near accidents such as when people get too close at high speeds. It takes some real mental rewiring to learn to remain calm and not give that person their space once they attempt to swing out next to you. In my case this is nearly impossible as people tend to bunch up in the turns. This seems to be the norm for most racers.

I’d be lying if I said a slew of confidence hadn’t entered me with my recent success in winning preems and getting credible results. This was mainly due to my regiment of interval training and general fitness from structured training. Mind you I’m not on some super calorie restrictive diet at this point in time (you’ve gotta leave some wiggle room to improve when you become one of the elite. If you’ve got the high end bike, long hours of structured training, and a bare-essentials diet AND you’re not on the elite pro level, you might want to consider a different goal if it was originally to reach that peak elite status.) I like to think of it as being mindful about my meals. There is a deal of portion control now, but I am in no way famished.

While my fitness has carried over to this new category well, I feel it is now time to develop the real chops that the majority of established bike racers possess. I am able to react when being bumped, that being said it is done against my will and as a last resort. Much like the kid who is able to swim but still fears the water, I just need to be pushed into this new foreign environment. I know I’m suited to do well, it’s a matter of getting my feet wet and my skin a little thicker.

I just realized there was no nitty gritty to the way the race turned out. Ok, here it goes.

The pace was tame for the first half of the race. There was the usually advances going on from the outsides of the group. To which I latched on occasionally to have a better view of the front. No real breaks were made. One group of three tried to get something going with 25 minutes to go. To which I moved up and waited for someone to initiate the chase. This didn’t work out and I decided to burn a match to bridge said gap. I’d like to think I did so without wasting too much energy. As I said before, I’m paying a lot more attention to power generated and felt like I had that effort in me. With three to go there was a big crash before turn 3. I was too far behind to be affected by it. Things started to stay bunched up from there to the end of the race. To which I decided to keep things safe and not ride completely anxious in fear of making some skittish mistake. I ended with a mid pack finish and was able to see the front of the race sprint it out for first.

There’s my race report. No further questions please. Until next time….

-dfj

Upgraded

Keep taking deep breaths….

As many of you may know, I’ve recently upgraded to a higher category for bike racing. I would like to get something off my chest before I continue give my mental analysis of what’s to come. There are multiple ways to make this transition. I chose to upgrade through amount of races finished. While this is not the most prestigious or looked-up towards method, our licenses have the same number on them. I fail to see why there would be other options if they weren’t held to the same merit as their alternatives. I’ve met the conditions required, and have been approved my officials. By definition I’ve earned it. End of story. Now to change gears of subject matter.

I have always associated Cat 3 as the beginning of the elite categories. A combination of intellectual planning must be matched with strength and conditioning. I doubt you’ll see your local track superstar at a road race with more than 1K feet of elevation gain in it. This is where people start to focus on what their strengths are and cater to those races during the season. Climbers stick to climbing, sprinters keep the races flat and fast, and so on. Luckily for me, I seem to do well in both ends of the spectrum. This means I get the best of both worlds.

Much like my upgrade from 5 to 4, I’ve got to start back at the bottom of the totem pole. It was right around this time of year which I submitted and was approved for my previous upgrade. Not the most convenient time of the season. Still, I’ve been beginning to mentally prepare for what’s to come.

I’m starting to pay more attention to the bike computer to make sure my numbers are within normal limits. There are times in which I am able to keep said numbers stable, while keeping my physical stature stable and my movements subtle. This is the trifecta in cycling. If you can keep a hot pace while masking your physical and mental emotions from showing, you’ve got an edge that is capable of winning races. While I felt this way on our usual Sunday coffee ride, my mind was going pretty crazy. While such a level of balance and composure is obtainable, being mindful of all of the combined stressors can be overwhelming and cause things to go terribly wrong. I can remember a point in time in which I had a short conversation within my own head. It sounded something like, “Woah! We’re going pretty fast. My muscles are feeling pretty stressed right now. My numbers look good, and I’m not out of breath. Guess I just gotta keep at it. ” Its a feeling of excitement and unpredictability of not knowing what’s going to happen next. That’s how I best sum up my riding experience from here on out.

I’ve been talking with as many other racers as I can to try and pick their brains and see what I’ve gotten myself into. I seem to have my head in the right place. It’s a matter of the above mentioned head-game along with following through with risks as they will arise. I hear things will be more aggressive. More riders are confident in their craft and will not hesitate to show it. Much like the realization that things are going to get risky during the first road race of the season a few weeks ago, I’ve got to accept that this is going to happen, and I gotta have the chops to back up what I want from it (results and gains.)

I’m going to end this with a corny cliche that fits well with what’s going on in my headspace. I can only look at the water for so long. I’ve philosophized about it, developed a passion through such thoughts. I’ve even dipped my feet in the water to see what things feel like.I’ve managed to expose more and more flesh to the water. It can be exhilarating and gut-wrenching. The time has come where I submerge my entire being in the water to find out if I sink of swim (fun fact: IRL I cannot float, so I naturally sink.) from here on out it will be a test of establishing whether I can come out on top both figuratively and literally. Further progress will perfect the craft and when all is said and done, the world will be mine.

-dfj

Childhood Traditions

This Saturday I was coaxed by a parent to visit a family friend from Mexico who is visiting the area. This would take place at my born-again uncles house in the nicer part of the valley. As much of a recluse I may be, I saw the earnest effort my dad put forth in wanting me to join.

Right away I knew my role in this gathering. I was there so other relatives could brag about my accomplishments and how time has past since we all last saw each other. Like most relatives I had no recollection of who this stranger was, nor do I have a better understanding of who they are today. If I could summarize my purpose into a few sentences it would paraphrase to, “Hi, it’s me, don’t remember our relationship so it’s like we’re meeting for the first time. You too knew me as a baby, alright. This is what I’ve been up to.” And I usually ghost out of there shortly after. Hell, I could have left them a letter and saved some time for both of us.

Once we all reacquainted, I took the tour of this new home I’ve never been to, then I was reminded. That the reason this level of success had been achieved was through faith (oh boy, here we go.) Between that and the house filled with religious related decorations, books on faith and beliefs, along with a painting of the last supper with a white Jesus in the dining room, I knew I couldn’t have an impartial conversation about the subject without being flooded by biased points of view. So I took the higher route and continued to nod my head at whatever self-fulfilling message they were trying to get across.

One of the few things I noticed was that my other relatives have this secret agenda for me. In particular, my grandma is convinced I’m going to go to medical school to become a doctor. I didn’t have the heart to tell her about my cynical and alternative point of view and newly discovered free will. It took some restraint and discipline to keep the dark and cynical thoughts from spewing out. The alcohol kept the wheels greased and prevented a drastic change in mood. It’s situations like these that I’m glad my parents never pushed me too hard to do one particular thing. Sure there were a few restrictions, but when it came to things like faith and career choice, they didn’t know what the hell they were doing so why try and teach me to do something they were uneducated about?

One of the biggest take homes I learned from this was the parenting styles of my dad’s side of the family. My uncle has four kids. All of which are under thirteen years old. They’re ages are spaced out pretty well and I commend him for that. In seeing how they handle the family environment their parents have created I was reminded of a time when I was in that same setting at a similar age.

I found it a bit disappointing that the parenting styles haven’t been altered in the slightest bit. They still show affection and status from flexing their dominance over their kin and through jokes. Having saw and experienced this first hand as a youth, I thought to myself, “Well, that’s why I’m insecure and don’t do well in groups.” And “Yup, he’s done that to me too. I wouldn’t be surprised if in 15 years they resent you for the level of embarrassment you’ve caused them.” They’ve never understood the emotional damage that can come with jokes in large groups and refuse to acknowledge and accept what their doing. I’m just glad I don’t have to deal with it anymore. It’s no longer my problem and I wish their now kids the best of luck.

It’s kind of ironic that while people gather in groups to reacquaint, socialize and interact with one another from this new side of them, I never felt like I could have an open conversation about obscure topics like I normally can with close friends. Instead it’s this ritualistic environment where radical thoughts are met with skepticism and general dislike. It’s as though my family has found a way of living that they agree with and refuse to fully consider other lifestyles that are perfectly plausible for anybody, like not staying in school to become a doctor or belonging to a church. I know it’s this side of the family because I had mentioned to my uncle how my mom and I have become closer because I no longer feel like there is a barrier of mother to son that would prevent us from talking about things like sex, depression, and other taboo subjects a mother might not want to hear their child talk about.

I did reach my social threshold Saturday night and ended up having to leave unannounced. That being said, it wasn’t a total loss. I got to travel back in time and saw what my childhood was like now as a grown adult. I have somewhat a better understanding of the environment my folks have created. That being said, unless I’m in an inebriated stupor, I’m not going to give them any new perspective on life. That door seems to have been shut a long time ago.

Makes you want to start a tribe of your own huh? I’ll take a rain check myself.

-dfj

Solidarity

Time to dial things back….

While many of us are at the halfway point to a new weekend, I would like to do a little reflecting on this past weekend before it becomes irrelevant. As many of you who pay attention to the southern California race season, this past weekend kicked off the first road race on the calendar. As usual, the team caravaned up to Santa Barbara county to let the locals know that Los Angeles is here and isn’t pulling any punches. For those of you seeking a race report, I will try and make this quick and concise.

  • Pace was tame for the most part
  • Not a lot of teamwork was collectively conducted, thus resulted in the typical “every man for himself” style our category is known for
  • All breakaway attempts were chased down at an early stage
  • The final section before the finish was a large group of riders trying to squeeze past each other without jumping the center line
  • If you managed to lock in a good position at that time (I did not) you were going to do well, regardless of fitness

Much like the jitters that come from riding in a group at high speeds after enjoying group rides with more sparse numbers, I had to remind myself that this was going to be the norm for the upcoming season. It took some time for me to get my bearings in this what-was-once familiar environment. I made the decision to play it safe and refrain from mixing it up when things bunched up. The combination of the above mentioned emotions along with the fact that I currently am on a demo bike kept my in check from repeating a memorable crash that took place last year. As an added bonus, I had a few teammates of mine in the same racing category for both Saturday and Sunday’s race. If I could choose a theme for this past weekend, it would be solidarity.

I have mentioned in conversation many times that the presence of someone else who’s also flying your same flag makes a tremendous difference in race atmosphere and dynamics. To add to that chemistry, not only did we race together, we rendezvoused back to our friend’s house and continued the group interactions well after the bikes had been put away. Normally you see someone shortly before, and maybe during a race. Once all is said and done, people usually have their post-race routines and proceed to wrap things up in hopes to reacquaint in the near future. Not this weekend. I finally understand what a healthy team relationship can do for the overall nature of a team. Close bonds only make things better when the going gets tough and you find yourself holding back the tears from hitting those mental barriers one after another. This is a perfect example of actions taking place that I  have mentioned in regards to holding that unwritten standard of cycling etiquette when its time to test one’s might.

This new batch of racers seems like a closer knit community in one of the more friendlier aspects than others. Teamwork is becoming a bigger priority for emerging teams on the entry and more elite levels. More and more riders are stoked to have others there they get to ride with and work together alongside. As much as I dislike any overwhelming amount of affection (no matter from whom) I can’t help but feel more welcome to interact with more people now more than ever. One of my now friends mentioned in a joking fashion that we couldn’t make it to the registration tent without me being stopped by multiple people to stop and chat. While I did my best to take a humble approach to this statement (as it was entirely true) part of me longs for a day when I can let more of my guard down and let a little more love into my being. Unfortunately that is easier said than done for me. I’m not just going to go hugging my mom and significant other all willy nilly overnight.

My main point I am getting at is, teamwork is good. Team chemistry and solidarity only makes things better in large steps. We might not have swept the podium on either day of racing, but we are slowly coming to syncing our frames of mind to the same wavelength. And that’s just as good in my book. I guess this is the type of dynamic people who go to training camps long for. I’ve read a few books on cycling and have a basic understanding of the tight bonds that form from spending so much time in close proximity, and in times of stress and fatigue. We might not have an official training camp week/month, but that’s not to say we can’t form the same bond in a less formal setting. The collective interest in something we all feel so passionate about can bring about change in one’s mind and overall outlook on life. It can be a little nerve racking at first, but like and group project anyone has been assigned to, the forming of bonds is inevitable whether they be good or bad. I can say with confidence that these bonds are bringing many good vibes.

-dfj

What Happened

I’ll tell you what happened….

After an eventful weekend of racing I have verbally described a most recent turn of events to my physical and mental limits. It was fun and cute in the heat of the moment, but I hope to share the details now so that I don’t have to bring it up again.

I would like to preface this story with a spoiler alert for those who may or may not know the immediate details,

I AM FINE.

After having said that, if you are reading this then please believe me when I say I know you are glad to hear I am fine and in one piece. So let’s save the redundancy for when it matters. Thanks.

For those who have no clue what I’m talking about, I would like to keep things short and sweet.

During today’s race, with three, closing in on two laps to go, I was taking a right turn in a group of racers when one rider to my not-so immediate right decided to go wider than everyone else. He swiped me from the side, knocking me slightly off balance (and really knocking himself off balance) causing himself to crash. He had washed out after hitting me and swerved and rolled a bit before he came to a complete stop. Keeping him in my sights I waited for him to finally come to a halt, then proceeded to swerve around him.

Like most races, all it takes is a crash to light a match under the groups wheel and separate those who want to win from those that don’t. In an attempt to bridge the gap that had opened up, I noticed my rear wheel rubbing, in which I opened up my brake to try and finish the race. My wheel must have been really out of true because although my brakes were wide open, I could not help but prevent the rub.

I eventually finished the race after being dropped from the pack and began to assess the damage. Come to find out the reason why my wheel became so out of true was because the right seat-stay had snapped off and the uneven weight distribution must have put a damper on the spoke tension and overall roundness of the wheel.

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Much like the remaining adrenaline that softens the blow of injury, I predict that in about three days time i will be fully aware that I no longer have a road bike to ride. A realization I can imagine much like injury, will be met with tears and bitterness. It’s times like these that I am glad I have a backup bike to ride.

If you were to ask me what’s on my mind right now, I would naturally be thinking when is the soonest time I can get back on a road bike. Having registered for a few events in the upcoming weekend, I still believe that there are options for me to race and do well. I do know that if I am not able to race again this weekend, the sadness will set in a little earlier than anticipated.

I’d like to think that I am taking this what could have been catastrophe well. After all, a turn of events like this was completely out of my control. There isn’t an ounce of guilt that I am carrying that is tied to a mistake I made. There wasn’t an overwhelming amount of fatigue that caused me to lose focus. I had been riding well and saw myself making the podium with the way everyone else was riding (most riders (myself included) felt pretty beat up after racing the day before. There were strong winds, gravel, and a slight incline that caused our one man breakaway to stay away and win the race.) I still feel like I have what it takes to achieve an exceptional amount of success that I can be proud of. A level achievement that will put the guilt of thoughts like, “What am I doing with my life?” To rest once and for all.

So that sums up my weekend. My body is intact, my bike isn’t. I still plan on riding and racing this season. Having decided that I want to walk a little further down this career path, I have justified replacing it with a new frame of equal quality. Doesn’t mean I still can’t take the track bike and keep this level of fitness on an incline.

Now that all my thoughts are out there, do we really have to discuss what happened again?

-dfj