Survival Doesn’t Win

I am stubborn.  I get something in my head, and I go with it.  I have a one track mind at times, and all I see is that little goal or decision and I just press towards it.  Sometimes this is the reason for success, and sometimes it is the cause of failure.  I think that is what you call stubborn.  Stubbornness isn’t so bad, anyway.  It means I have resolve, and determination. Right?

I decided to do the University Road Race yesterday.  Why?  Because I wanted to.  I happen to love that race.  I love that race because it is one of the first races that I got to compete in last year and realize that I belonged in the Pro1/2 field.  Now, this year, I am doing it knowing that I belong and knowing that I may even have an advantage.  Besides, I missed my friends at the races.  If I can take on crazy Italians in the European peloton, surely I can take on the University Road Race (even if I have a cracked sternum).  I love it. 

The course is about 3 miles long.  You climb 1.5 miles, then descend 1.5 miles.  Pretty simple.  Up up up.  Down down down.  I like simple.  You don’t have to think much with a simple race of attrition, or so I thought.

Linda had warned me that I shouldn’t race.  I still can’t get out of the saddle because of my chest injury from the crash.  She said, “Ali, you have done this race before, you know it is really hard…” I said, “I know, it is completely brutal, and that’s why I am doing it!”  She said, “And, that’s why I love you..”  Ha.  What can I say?  I am a glutton for punishment.  The harder the race the better.

The race was fun.  It was great to get back to a NorCal race and see all the familiar faces.  I loved seeing the Dolce Vita women out there.  I love those girls.  I felt at home with them, and happy to be among friends and former teammates.  I took it upon myself to make the race hard.  Why not?  And hard we made it. 

Attacks, attacks, a selection occurred.  With a 15 lap race, the attacks occurred on lap 1.  Once the selection happened, which is likely on a course like this, of pure attrition, it slowed slightly.  People were relieved to make the selection.  Why let is slow down now?  I attacked the selection group of 7, and formed a break of 3.  Lap count, 11 to go.  Ha.  We worked the break.  We got 1 minute, then up to 2 minutes.  With 3 laps to go, I decided to attack the break.  The break was now 2.  2 people.  How do I win?  I started planning, devising, strategizing.  I need to learn to win.  Now, Alison, figure it out. 

I attacked, she countered.  Ouch.  I clawed back on.  That hurt.  The cat and mouse began.  I was riding, justtrying to look at her body language out of the corner of my eye.  My peripheal vision became extremly sensitive to jittery moves, heaving breathing, and any sign of a fight, of a attack, or whatever she would throw at me, maybe a grenade, maybe a kick.  You never know.  Trying to listen for shifting, looking for muscle twitches, looking for a sign. 

Olivia, my break mate, is the Irish TT National Champion, and she is heading back in a week for another run at her title.  She is a tremendous athlete anda friend.  I tried to take that out of sight, I tried to be cut throat.  I felt like my cat, stalking a prey.  1 lap to go.  I attacked, she countered.  Once again, I found myself clawing, scraping, scrambling back on.  That really hurt.  I went from feeling golden, feeling invincible, to feeling the pain zone in full force.  This is where the mistake happened.  I was in pain.  Literal, seeing red, pain.  That hill hurt.  I was so focused on my suffering, I forgot a very important fact.  She was hurting too.  I needed to counter her attack.  Honestly, it never crossed my mind.  Oops.  That just surprises me, because I know that, usually.  But, when you add a little suffering, a little heat, and a little pressure, your “book” knowledge is thrown out the window, and I went into survival mode.  Really?  Survival mode?  You don’t win bike races by surviving.  Final time up the hill, I knew I had to go before she did because she has a bigger jump then me.  I tried to attack on the descent.  Not once, but 3 times.  That wasn’t smart, as I was told by the motorcycle escort.  He said, “Doh!  Why is she doing that!”  This is coming from the nicest escort ever, as he did remind me to drink water as well throughout the race.  I attacked 2 more times, and she jumped for the line.  I was cooked.  O rode a great race, great girl, and I took 2nd.  I got an awesome Velo Promo tShirt though.  I love it. 

The best part of the race was the debriefing following the race with Brooke and LJ.  It was great to learn what I shoulda, coulda, woulda done.  I love them.  I have the strength, I have the legs, now on to the winning.  The more I need to learn, the more I am excited to work with my team in the upcoming months… Next time I am in that situation, hopefully I remember what to do, and I don’t block out the more painful option.  Don’t recover, counter attack.  It is funny how “logical” you get when in the red, yet to win, you must make a very “illogical” choice, and risk more pain, more suffering, but it may work.  Right?

More races on tap.  I will be heading to Missouri for Labor Day Weekend to race the Gateway Cup Series with Team TIBCO.  4 crits, 4 days.  Bring on the speed.

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