Rockwall Criterium Weekend 2012
There are two main ways that I judge my cycling: power data and results. On one hand, it is incredibly satisfying to reach new levels of fitness and break personal records of average power over certain time intervals. But as many have said, “You are only as good as your last race.” Results matter too.
Saturday’s race was a very windy four corner crit course around a business park. I was a bit nervous because I don’t race with the guys from Dallas very often. I didn’t know what to expect. As the race started, I kept up front, trying to find a draft as much as possible. Different teams were adamant on keeping the field in the gutter, but I was motivated to stick in with my wife and parents cheering me on. About halfway through, I found myself in a small breakaway attempt with riders much better at this sort of thing than me. Feeling good I took strong pulls, until I started to understand what a mistake this was. My breakaways companions sensed my weakness and quickly dropped me. I was left in no man’s land, struggling to find strength to hold on. As the peloton came past me in the crosswind, I tried to get on the back, but could not get up to speed quite fast enough, and before I could say “goodbye” I was dropped. I haven’t been dropped in a while, and I really hate the stares of spectators as you pedal 30 seconds off the back. The officials said I could finish the race, so I hopped back in with the main group a lap down and finished the race in 26th place. 2nd to last.
I grew up playing tennis under the close tutelage of my father. Tennis taught me a lot of great life lessons, but ultimately I felt that I lacked the skill to really be really great. I walked away from many matches feeling that if only the game was more a test of willpower than skill, I would blow any opponent off the court. (It is no surprise to me that I ultimately found a calling in cycling.) After hard losses, my dad would console me by saying, “In the end, it doesn’t matter who won or lost, but whether you had fun.” In my infinite teenage wisdom, I would sarcastically reply, “Oh Yeah, then why do we keep SCORE?” My father was trying to help me to see the overlying theme that sport is meant to entertain us, to help us grow and be happy, while I was only seeing results.
In this race, I did have fun. I was working hard, tried to get in the break, and over cooked it a little too much. Everyone gets dropped now and then, and I still finished the race and got some good riding in. As long as I had fun, that’s all…… NO DANG IT!!!! I WANT TO WIN!! Really, I was frustrated with my lack of results and as much as I tried to rationalize what benefit I got from the race, I still wanted a top result. I talked with Coach Wenger. “It’s good that you learned something today Ken, but ultimately you need a result. Tomorrow, get a top 10. You can do that.” Through the night, I internalized this
advice demand mandate, and determined that no matter how hard, how much it hurt, I would succeed.
Sunday was a harder race. With no wind, the breaks came continuously for the first 50 minutes, as fresh legs attacked off the front one or two at a time. Bigger teams would send one person at a time up the road. I tried to follow some early moves, but noticed how tired I was getting. There were people that were just plain fitter than me, and I could not match them attack for attack.