7 – April – 2012: Day before Paris – Roubaix
I woke up and set about getting ready quickly. I hate feeling rushed, especially when I’m the one who’s made me that way. Lucky for me, and the people I’m driving out to the race, I got mostly packed the night before. I get dressed, wolf down my usual breakfast before rolling up my shorts and putting some embro on. After washing my hands I grab my bags and I’m out the door only a few minutes behind.
That few minutes leaves me out of part two of my race day ritual. I drive into SE, pick up Tym, then Ben before we head to HQ where Nate is fighting with the esspresso machine. That takes up some more time and while they get it beans brewing I run across the street to buy a pastry. A different one than I usually eat, but it might do. Afterward we finally hit the road and head South.
This isn’t an “A” race for me, meaning its not the race I’ve been training for, but its still important to me. Last year I gave up sweets for three months in the vain hope of winning. It was to be the same this year, but training was delayed due to not having a bike for spot and things just got pushed back. All the same it wasn’t going to stop me from trying to win this. Even if I didn’t get to finish my race morning ritual.
Adding to the stress I was designated “team leader” of our two man squad in the 4/5 race. Not many tactics to play with two, but we talked about a plan. I just hopped I could hold up my end of the bargain.
We lined up late, which meant we were in the back. After the neutral I tried my damndist to move up before we hit the gravel, then I hit the gravel full gas. Moving up was easy, but I lost my teammate Big Time in the hustle. I felt good. Strong good as I looked for the clean lines through the loose stuff. Franz passed me and I jumped out to get on his wheel after he said “Hi”. Then things started to feel weird.
My rear wheel has been loose, which sometimes make it feel like I have a flat. I just assume, or is it a wish, that I’m experiencing the same thing. My dream fell apart. No denying it, my rear tyre is flat.
First I panic, then decide to ride it out to the end of the gravel, then realize how silly that is after I almost wash out. I pull over and dismount as the pack rolls by then out of sight. Big Time finds me and stops. I stop not short enough of asking him for his wheel before I resign myself to waiting for the follow car. I tell big time to go.
New wheel I start my chase.
I think about quitting and going back to the car to stew. There’s no way I’m going to catch the lead group, but I figure that the mear attempt will help my fitness. So chase I do. I find groups of riders strung out along the road. At first I offer my wheel, but they don’t seem to try, so I keep my hands in the drops and keep rolling. It takes forty – minutes of this before I catch a group I can work with.
That was a long time to be alone. Only a few thoughts crossed my mind during that silent moving meditation, but only one sticks.
This isn’t what I wanted, but this is exactly what I need.