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.