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Back in the Saddle (or, Pain Deferred)

October 22, 2010

Now that it is officially the cycling off-season (fondly referred to as Off-tober and No-ride-vember), we cyclists begin looking towards next season, and what we are going to do over the winter to prepare for our goal races the next season.  My seasons will never be the same again, now that I have LM.  I adore her and wouldn’t trade her for anything, but she does put a damper on the three to four-hour training rides that have been common during my last five winters.  Not to mention the racing itself; knowing that a little person is waiting for me to feed her and take care of her may also impact my racing and courage in criteriums.

The criterium, or short course bicycle race is a staple of American bicycle racing.  It is fast, exciting and fun to watch.  Not to mention that car-loving Americans can’t STAND having their roads shut down, or even shared by cyclists for long course road racing.  Criteriums are also pretty dangerous.  I kissed the pavement on one memorable occasion, leaving me with a bruised cheekbone, puffy lip and two black eyes–I always consider myself extremely lucky to have not broken a cheekbone or a tooth in that crash (and it was fun to explain at work!). In certain light, the round scar is still visible.  DH got airlifted once, after losing consciousness for about 30 seconds following a crash in a criterium.  His helmet was split like an egg.  He also has a super gnarly collarbone on one side from a crookedly healed broken clavicle, and every cyclist I know has a road rash scar on at least one elbow, hip, knee or ankle bone.

To race a criterium well, though, you can’t ride like you think you are going to crash.  You have to ride every race with the knowledge that you WILL NOT crash, no matter how fast you take a corner or how hard someone jostles you in the sprint.  If you start to worry about crashing, you get nervous and are more likely to do something stupid.  Then you crash.  I want to go back to racing criteriums.  I miss the sense of purpose in training, the anticipation of a goal event, the crush on the starting line while the official gives the instructions

Release the hounds!!!

and then the exhilaration of the race itself.  Wheee!  I get all riled up just thinking about it.  I can’t actually think about bicycle racing before I got to bed, otherwise my adrenaline starts flowing and I can’t sleep.  Now I’ll have to start thinking about kittens falling asleep to calm back down.

All I know is that I have to figure out how to make it work, on a minimum of training.  I have my indoor trainer, and my Burley trailer so I can pull LM around and try to get into shape.  It can work; there is a woman I have raced against with two daughters, probably about 4 and 6 by now, who come out and scream “GO MOMMY” on every lap.

At the very least, my new team is planning a big race downtown for this coming season.  There is no way I’ll be able to race it if I am helping direct and promote the event, but at least I’ll be close to the action.  We are going to model it after the Athens Twilight Criterium, so if I can’t ride an awesome race, at least I’ll be behind making one!

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