Monday, May 12, 2008

A Trip to the Isle

A trip to the Isle indeed was made by me this Sunday past.

Whatever did I find there? Nought but gusty breezes, under-insulated juniors with teeth aclattering, whitecaps sea-spraying the ferry-boat, and myself a forgettable sixth. Yes, I was off to the races as per usual, going out of my way for a bit of Sunday morning cycle-sport suffering. And suffer I did.

I never cease to amaze myself at my capacity for self-sabotage when it comes to many things in life, including bike races. Having carefully planned my whole weekend around this event, Ziggy's "Islander Crit" on Mother's Day, having stayed home the Saturday night carefully observing the state of my derailleur while others were perhaps out enjoying life as still-living people should (and having given the miss to the work-weekend at my place in the country - Wa-hoo!), still I managed to land myself well behind the eightball.

Did I underdress for the raw maritime weather? No.
Did I forget to bring $ for the ferry and make myself late? No.
Did my bike not work in the crucial moments of the race? No.
Did I do a 120 km training ride the day before, with an hour in the headwind? Yes.

Somehow I can't seem to restrain myself - the old phobia against all success-based-planning struck again and off I tore on Saturday a.m. when saner folk lie abed, counting their blessings in a dream. It's the regimen my body adhers to: Donut Time. So off I went to my doom, as it were, without even pumping up my tires for a 4.5 hour ride the day before race day. As my old dad said over brunch on Sunday, 'You left victory on the road to King City'.

Now why do I do these things? To have a built-in excuse for failure? Out of a misguided notion of race-day preparedness? A total loss of short-term memory? All of the above perhaps. In any event, despite being a flat course and no more than 45 minutes or so, the race was pretty hard as the field was very small and the cross winds intense. Bike racers just don't fancy trips to Toronto Island it seems - must be the lack of car access. You have to take a boat, which could sink, for crissakes. That (and Ziggy constantly picking holidays for his race days) makes for small fields and more work for everybody involved.

It is more exciting though - you can see the front of the race because you're constantly at or near the front, and so you feel your chances are really good. My big idea was to attack the race from the gun, with M3 cross champion Dennis Thang. We did that, got a gap right away, and lost it after two exhausting laps, two little guys trying to act like Jens Voigt. Dennis figured we'd gotten respect from the field for doing it nonetheless. I spent the next five laps trying to recover and eventually mostly did. I was just damned tired of there never being a breakaway in an M3/S4 race and I wanted to make one happen for once. But two of us were not enough. In the end I took sixth place out of thirteen.

Dennis likely felt better about the whole failed escape because he won the S4 (from a field of two!), and put in a great move before the final hairpin to be fourth overall. He gave me his prizes, which included a pot of flowers - there you are Mum. Our new plan is to go to Niagara next Sunday for a proper road race - my first ever.

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