This past weekend was my first race back on the road since the Bear Mountain Classic back in May. My original plan for this summer was to do around four road races, and to be on the podium or win each, but unfortunately it hasn’t worked out that way. This summer was the first time in the past three years I let the normal life of a 22 year old get in the way of my racing and training, between starting a new job and actually having an illness affect my day to day life for the first time, my training from June and July was not anywhere near what I wanted it to be, and definitely not what I needed it to be. So that forced me to have to skip the races I planned on doing these past months, and even if I did race I for sure did not have the race form to compete for the win or even the podium. I don’t want to sound like I’m making any excuses, because everything that happened was in my control, I didn’t put in the necessary work requirement, I’ve been lazy and to be quite honest I’m ashamed in myself the way I’ve acted these past couple of months, because it’s not the way someone who wants to perform at a high level lives their lives.
That being said, this past weekend injected a new amount of motivation into the blood stream. I went into this race anxious for a couple of different reasons. First and foremost I wasn’t sure how my form was going to be because I knew my training hasn’t been great, and on top of that I haven’t been in competition since May, one of the longest breaks I’ve taken from racing in two years. But when I hopped on the bike this weekend, all of those thoughts went out the window, and I just put my head down and raced my heart out. For the first time in a long time, I was happy with the way I performed, rather than focusing on my placing, and for me that was a huge win. Yes, I would’ve liked to finish higher in the general classification, and I would’ve liked to take a stage win, but I walked away both days with a smile on my face and proud of the way I raced my bike.
That feeling has been basically non-existent in my life, I’m a competitor, and I’m never happy to just “take part” in an event, I want to go out each and every race competing for a win. I’ve come to realize that mindset doesn’t correspond with success, a true champion doesn’t go into competition with the idea just to win. A true competitor and champion goes into the event with the mindset to leave everything they have out on the floor, and have the confidence that if they do, that they’ll come out on top, and if not they can be content they gave it everything they had and go back to work the next day to be the best.
This past weekend I’ve finally have come to that realization. After years of having that unhealthy mindset, two days, and three races later I’ve had a change of heart. For the first time in my life, I didn’t race with that extra weight on my shoulders, and it was incredible. I blew my legs out of the water for all three races, and I had an absolute blast doing so.
Day one featured a pancake flat individual time trial and a criterium at South Park in Buffalo, New York. The time trial was Mercx style, so no time trial bikes, no aero bars, just classic road bikes to make the playing field as level as possible. The time trial was only 4 miles, so there’s no plan, no pacing, just put the power in the pedals and go. My result from the time trial was better than I expected, as it’s a discipline I don’t have a lot of experience in. The criterium went exactly as I expected, very fast, and sketchy as there was a crash on the final lap. I put in a BIG effort to try and break away from the main field with two laps remaining, but because of the wind it was near impossible to ride away solo, and since nobody followed I just decided to come back to the group, which eventually ended in a bunch sprint to the line. Day two was again a pancake flat road race, six laps on a 6.3 mile loop. Again I tried to ride away solo, this time I was given some breathing room to attempt a solo ride to the finish, but it didn’t work out as I was caught with 3/4 of a lap remaining.
A lot of positives to take away from this weekend, which I’m incredibly happy to have. I fully expected to walk away from this weekend disappointed and frustrated. I hope to bring this newfound mindset into my day to day life, and my upcoming cyclocross season. I have one more effort on the road this summer, but it’s just for fun as I’m competing in a triathlon relay on the bike leg. My full focus turns to ‘cross and brining my best form for the upcoming months.
For now ladies and gentlemen ‘Cross is Coming.