I put "Racing" because technically I raced. I paid an entry fee. I presented my license. I received a number. I pinned it on. I lined up with a bunch of other racers. I started.
And that was about it.
Two laps in I was done, shelled, finito, OTB.
Not much of a race report because there wasn't much to report.
Oh, sure, it was windy. There was a stiff headwind, stiff crosswind, and when it got strung out I had to push my own way through the molasses-like wind. I was one of the only ones to drop out, at least I was the first one, so that illustrates my level of overall form.
Ultimately though I wasn't totally shocked. On the way over to the race I told the Missus that because I really hadn't trained much this year I was treating "now" as the beginning of the season.
In other words I'd done a few hundred miles this year, I don't know how many hours but I'm guessing in the 40-50 hour range. This isn't hardly enough to be a reasonable Cat 3 racer, even for a sort of non-racer like me.
Let me clarify. Of course I love racing. I love criteriums. I love duking it out on the last lap or two of a crit. However, in the sense of a "true" racer, I'm not really that. I don't train like mad. I've given up on trying to significantly improve my climbing (making a terrible climber much much better results in a not-quite-terrible climber). I don't do 15-20 hours a week. Okay, I don't do 8-12 hours a week. I did a huge week last week and it was about 6.5 hours (meaning from Tuesday through Monday).
What this all means is that I haven't been training much. I haven't focused on diet much either, so I've gained weight. I've done all the things that a person can do to make their bike racing worse.
This, then, would be the beginning of the 2012 season for me.
I've been focusing on cadence, among other things. Back to the basics if you will. I haven't yet blocked out my gearing, relying instead on my discipline and my Sportsiiiis to remind me that I'm bogging down. If I feel the need I'll block out my gearing, maybe go down as far as the 53x15 I used as a Junior. I have some smaller track chainrings. This means I could run a 46x39 set up, as an example, or maybe a 48x39.
I want to get some hours on my legs. I simply don't have any kind of aerobic base. In the race Tuesday I was absolutely redlined at 160 bpm. At that point I started not being able to hold a good line so I eased up and dropped out of the group. As soon as I was alone and my heart rate dropped just a few beats I felt fine on the bike. I need to work on my base so that 160 bpm isn't a headspinning effort.
I need to lose weight. I had a short physical Tuesday (for which I had to fast for a bit, but that's not a valid reason for my paltry ride later that evening), and my weight is now... 178 lbs. I think I weigh more than Ryder Hesjedal and he's something like a half foot and change taller than me. I haven't focused much on diet but I am working on that.
I need to maintain my bike. It's in poor shape now, with last year's drivetrain still on there (old chain and cassettes). The bar tape, which I have to review, is a comet type tape - brillant but fading quickly. I could see a full time rider (one that trains 8-12 hours a week) replacing the tape every few weeks. I've gone over two months and the tape is played.
So what are my plans?
Cadence: I feel like I've lost my smooth pedal stroke. I haven't been riding much so my body hasn't felt the need to become more efficient. It lets me pedal squares it's so happy when I ride. I need to ride at a higher cadence in training to build suppleness. I'll work on it by riding rollers more (I want to do a 120 rpm 60 minute ride, just to prove to myself I still can). I'll use the Sportsiiiis to remind me to stay in my zone (currently set at 92-100 rpm). I'll try and spin instead of push in races.
Hours: I'll be riding the trainer more indoors while Junior is sleeping. The Missus, who really wants me to train more, is trying to allot the nice evenings for training rides. For example, Thursday evening is supposed to be nice, so she's blocked off that time so I can go ride after she comes home from work. She also pointed out that even if I get dropped in a race I ought to keep riding until I get pulled. Training is training, and if I can do a hard effort for 20 minutes, it beats not making a hard 20 minute effort.
Weight: I need to press a bit in the diet front. Losing weight is easy on paper, a simple equation:
Intake < Output
Easier said than done. When I lost 30 pounds over the 2009-2010 winter I was militant in my diet. I don't think it was the healthiest thing, but it got me to a healthier state. I flew that year, in part because of my lower weight. Granted, I did three training trips before May, but still, without the light weight I'd have been riding poorly. My average power was down 20%, my max power about 7%-8%, but I was riding stronger and better than ever.
So, yeah, Tuesday sucked. I jumped back on a couple times, got sawed off within a lap. I rolled around though, trying to keep the legs going. They felt really fatigued, really tired. Whatever I did to them in the first couple laps they didn't like, and they let me know.
I need to gather my forces. We won't make the next Tuesday so the next race we'll be at will be the Nutmeg State Games on Saturday June 9th. After that it'll be Tuesday Night Worlds on the 12th.
I've hit the Reboot button. Time to start over.