Monday, June 20, 2011

DINO French Lick: Daring Feats of Reckless Bravery

"In keeping with their credo of ‘Die biting the throat,’ a gnoll in haouka will take progressively greater risks, performing more and more daring feats of reckless bravery until she is killed."

Going out with the leaders. Thanks to Janelle Renschler for the photo.

Well, I failed to garner another win at DINO French Lick. I know that's kind of a bummer way to put it, but after my first win at Brown County, I was hungry for another, and it seemed very possible.

The race morning was strange, since early morning thunderstorms left us wondering if the race was on or off. Unable to get through to the DINO hotline, we set out and kept calling along the way. When Adam finally got through about two hours before the start time and over halfway there, there was no message either way. We assumed it was on.

The parking lot was so scarcely populated when we arrived that for a while I wondered how much competition there would actually be. However, there were some women from Missouri parked next to us and one of them was in my category. I knew nothing about her, so I just decided I would do my best to beat her to the singletrack and let the chips fall where they may.

By the time the race started, there were five Cat 1 girls and five Cat 2, including the girl who got second at Brown County. In this case, I knew I had to beat her to the top of the first hill so that I could gap her in on the downhill. Otherwise, I would end up engaged in a painful and frustrating back-and-forth like many times last season, which usually did not end well for me. Basing my strategy off of a fast start followed by a long max-effort climb is not the way I'd prefer to do things, but it was what I had to do in that situation.

So at the start I dove into my reckless feat of bravery. I shot out across the flooded driving range right behind the top three Cat 1 girls, and hoped that no one was too close behind me. Hitting the singletrack climb was painful, but I did my best to keep my composure, spin, and try to be as smooth as possible. Unfortunately, as I struggled to find my maximum sustainable pace going up the hill, the clicks of gears and chains behind me indicated that the pace was not fast enough to lose the competition. Early on I was passed by a Cat 1 girl with the Cat 2 girl from Missouri closely on her wheel. So I now I knew something about her: she was pretty darn fast.

At least the clicking behind me had subsided and I thought I could hold on for second. At the next switchback, it even looked like I had a decent gap. But the climb was just too long, and I was unable to hold off the next girl until the top. By the time she passed me, I was in full explosive state and I finally had to back off a bit. So I ended up being clear for the downhill after all, but not in the way I wanted. I limped my way through the rest of the lap for third. I think I would normally be happy with that, but I was mostly disappointed to have been outmatched by someone I know I can beat.

Now I have time to lick my wounds and come back fighting at Versailles. The last two weeks were kind of hard for me, because it took me a full week to feel normal after my effort at Brown County. Normally I struggle with a "phantom pedaling" sensation in my legs when I try to go to sleep the night after a race. After Brown County, I had that sensation for three nights. By the time I felt normal again, I didn't want to push myself too hard in training so that I would be fresh for French Lick. Not that I think two weeks of suboptimal training had much influence on my race result, but my plans have actually shifted to a 100% cyclocross focus for fall so I'm really supposed to just be training through all of the cross country races. I want to get back on track with that plan as soon as possible. Luckily, I get a rest week, a full training block, and another rest week before Versailles, so that should be perfect.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey Lindsay

One of the old coaches I used to work with offered this advice when we collaborated together with training track cyclists;

1 - Racing can get in the way of training... he was meaning that trying to win all the low priority races can wreck your training if you are constantly blown to bits from over-cooking the training races.

2 - You never learn much from winning and you learn far more from the type of race you described here. If you win, it might be because you are running red hot, or it could be due to a poor field, it it could be blind luck - you often never know. The good news from this race is that you have identified weak areas to work on! Which I will do his week.

Enjoy the week off! :)