In the passed month, I am proud to say that I have reached a new level of fitness. I have been making smarter decisions on what I eat, how much I eat, and how often I eat. I give my body plenty of time to digest before I have my next meal, and healthier food alternatives keep me full for longer. This in combination with a well rounded physical schedule of training rides and at-home workouts makes me feel like…. you know, come to think of it, I’m at loss for words when describing how I feel. The words that first come to mind are,
“Clean, efficient, and strong.”
In celebration of my new high-point, this passed Thursday my weekly evening group ride that I haven’t been able to attend in a few weeks now (work and school have me swamped). This week was my turn to create our route, and to show my friends my progress.
I planned the route around my hometown of Culver City. We passed by the hospital I was born, my first apartment my mom and I lived in, and my elementary school. This was an incredible experience for me. Not just for the physical journey, but the detour down memory lane. I was immediately reminded of past experiences with former friends; both the good and the bad. I felt glad I re-visited these sites and was able to show all my friends where I came from. Site-seeing aside, it is safe to say that that night, the pace was pretty hot. To turn a long story short, I gave it my all to show everyone what racing has turned me into. We all had a blast, & rendezvoused at our local bar for drinks afterwards. I decided not to drink that night, continuing to be proud of my current physical state, and ended up capping a sixty-mile ride with a recovery beverage & a good night’s sleep.
I honestly felt that I would be able to recover my legs in time for my race on Saturday, and boy was I wrong. I did everything I could that Friday to get my legs back to normal, but all attempts ended up not doing the job. The race on Saturday was a very steep & hot day. For the first time during a race, I could not keep up with the main pack and ended up getting dropped by the end of the first lap. This was a very humbling experience for me. I didn’t even end up finishing because I saw no true point in doing so. The optimist in me rationalized two things later that afternoon:
- I now know what the course feels like
- Since I was unable to move at a “race pace,” Saturday was more of a recovery ride in preparation for Sunday’s race
Although I did exert myself on Saturday, I felt like I had made recovery progress at the same time. Luckily for me, after the first race, I stopped over to my friend Lee’s house to pick up some new fancy wheels. These wheels worked wonders for me at today’s race. I did not win it, (I placed in the top 20 out of 60+ riders) but accelerating and maintaining a fast pace has gotten so much easier. The deep profile and new material of the wheels makes for a lighter & stiffer ride.
Given how much I pushed myself since Thursday, I feel as though I am putting together a solid strategy for my upcoming cycling career. One thing I need to work on (a lot) is being comfortable with riding in dense packs at high speeds. Today’s race averaged about 26-27mph. Imagine being boxed-in by 30+ cyclists going about 30mph, elbow to elbow, trying not to rub wheels, and making ninety degree turns. I have been told by multiple racers that the race becomes safer the faster you go. Which means that the top 10 riders do not bunch up as much because they are setting the pace and not following it. If you choose to be in the front, it will be a more difficult race because you cannot hide behind the person in front of you and hope that they continue to do all the work during the race, but you are ensuring your safety when you put more effort out.
I am convinced that if I apply my fitness to make an effort to stay in the top 10 during a race (even if it means ending up being in the very front for a section of a lap) I will get a better result, and less likely to crash. These new wheels will make a tremendous difference. I have another race one week from today. I am going to try and take it easy this week and not make the same mistake twice. I am also going to drill into my head that I have nothing to really be afraid of. I have handling skills and a dirt-bike background.
Right now I am staring at my bike, waiting until I will be fully recovered and able to use it to it’s full potential. This may sound a bit obsessive, but trust me, this is very important to me. I have been in a consistently good mood for the past weeks now & will continue to feel the same if I keep things up. Progress is still being made, school affairs are being taken care of, and I have still have a not-so-normal, but enjoyable social life. Here’s to the future.
P.S: This is what I get to stare at day after day from now on. 🙂