In the moment
There's a myriad of possibilities during every moment of a race. At least it seems that way when I'm fully rested and prepared for it. Then I can be a little more creative on the course. I can respond to surges off the front or attack to find weaknesses. When I'm not feeling it then I don't have much choice but to hang on at a pace I don't like, one that I can't keep. There's not much freedom in that type of race and the fun factor isn't what it should be. It's more comfortable to be a master of one's own race than to be a slave to the whims of others and the temptation to stop racing creeps in. Fortunately, that doesn't happen except for some training races. It happened last weekend at the Boulevard road race.
I knew it was going to be a tough day when I was nearing the venue and I saw a sign about high winds for the next 30+ miles. The array of large power-generating windmills along the ridge across from the start/finish area wasn't encouraging either. That's about the time I saw riders from an early race heading out for another lap leaning about 75 degrees into the wind. Not looking good.
I was hoping for a gradual increase in pace off the start but it started out at full speed. I was about mid-pack and steadily falling back. Before I knew it I was DFL. I couldn't help but laugh since that's never happened before (well it has but it under different circumstances and it was only for a couple of minutes.) The only person behind me was a race official on a motorcycle. =)
The pack was flying in tight formation weaving its way to the base of the first climb. The first casualties were flats and dropped chains. I'd move up a few spots when I could, but it wasn't until the climbs where I could get up into the first third. Once we hit a flat or some rollers I'd start falling back again and I'd start praying for some climbing. My legs could handle the climbs, but they didn't have enough juice for all the surges...left everything at the Torture Clinic. Anyway, I lost contact when I slowed up to take a short breather in the feed zone. I tried to catch back up to the pack and for a moment I thought I had. They were only fifty feet in front of my wheel. For a brief moment, when time came to a standstill, I had a thread of hope -- the possibility of possibilities. The reality of the situation sunk in when the group began to pull away and the motorcycle passed me by. It was game over.
I made a few mistakes, learned a couple of things and I'm looking forward to the next one.
DFL isn't the best place to be