Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Compared to Standards
Courtesy of Cycling Dirt
I saw this video after I posted the picture of myself on the paved climb at BCSP. Here is what going up a paved climb on a mountain bike is supposed to look like. About the only thing I can copy from the Luna Chix is the skinsuit. Maybe some day when I own a sweet carbon fiber hardtail with a bottle cage, I can wear my beloved skinsuit without looking like a dork. I can ditch the hydration pack and stand up hammer. Rawr.
Speaking of XC racing, last night I started giving some serious consideration to catting down to sport for the rest of the DINO season. This is following the second year in a row at Brown County where the sport women's field only did one lap, while I managed to have something bad happen on the second lap and DNF. Both years I was 20-30 minutes off the back of expert girls, while there was a large well-balance sport field with plenty of girls closer to my speed. Afterward, I was left staring at the results thinking, "I would have done okay in sport." At least I would have gotten off the course before disaster hit.
The DINO women's classes have come a long way in the last couple of years. When I was in sport class, I was mid-pack when a lot of girls showed up and top 3 when it was just "the usual suspects". It wasn't exactly auto-upgrade material, but I upgraded because Angela was upgrading and she was the only person faster than me who I could count on to show up at nearly every race. The distances wouldn't be that much longer and I would have at least one other person to race against every time.
However, when the next season came around, making sure I had at least one other person to race against was no longer an issue. The fields had grown larger and stronger and I'd gotten slower after upgrading instead of faster. All of the sudden, I had to deal with an onslaught of sport girls kicking my butt and 30 minute gaps between myself and the next expert woman. The standards had changed.
So here I am, back on the upswing fitness-wise, but I'm still falling very short of the expert class standard. I realized this morning that, while finishing the distances for expert races isn't an issue (what's 18 miles when you're shooting for 100?), I am nowhere near the 1:30-1:45 time guideline that the promoter lists on the website. The fastest I've ever finished an expert-distance race is 2:05. This was not something I thought about before I upgraded, because there was very little precedent for what was required, but now it seems that I'm the only girl in the class who is consistently much slower than that time estimation.
All of this leaves me wondering if it's time to take a step back. All I know is that I'm starting to hate XC racing and that I've pretty much dreaded the last two races. It would hurt to downgrade, but it would be much less demoralizing to be beaten by sport girls if I were one of them. The shorter distances might even give the confidence to ride a lot harder than I have been. Even though I can ride for hours and hours now, I'm having a hard time making past 1 hour at XC race pace.
I know that getting faster is supposed to be about learning to suffer, but isn't bike racing also supposed to be fun? I suppose it depends on the form of the suffering. What lesson/fitness gain am I achieving from slogging through 2 hours of self-inflicted torture because "I was supposed to be faster than this by now"? Perhaps it's time to accept where I really am and focus my efforts on competing against girls of similar ability, rather than beating myself up over the people I can't compete with.