15. April, 05:17 Uhr
As the title would suggest, I raced my first road race today. I’ve done two crits before this, finishing off the back in one and at the back of the pack in the other. I was pretty bummed out, but I spent the past 4 weeks training hard and I had a ton of confidence going into today.
The race was the O’fallon Grand Prix in Illinois, and I raced the cat 5 race, whereas at the other races there was only a cat 4/5. Maybe that had something to do with it, maybe it was the fact that I’m not the best at cornering and therefore had an advantage on a course with fewer corners, or the least likely thing could be that my training actually worked, but the race went really well. 24 miles, rolling course with 2 trips up a pretty gnarly, punchy climb. At least for the area.
I was up in the front of the group at the beginning and through the first lap of the circuit. The first time we went up the big hill, I thought I’d smash it, mostly just for shits and giggles, but also because I was feeling strong and thought “fuck it.” But then, on a completely flat stretch of road a little while after, a nasty crash took out a few guys, among them were some of the stronger riders in the race. With nerves on edge, the pace really picked up on the second trip of the circuit, and after being brake-checked coming out of a corner from a rider getting dropped, and being rekt from my Rambo charge up the hill, I too fell back and couldn’t catch up. I rode the last 8 miles or so off the back, all by myself, primarily into a headwind. It sucked. What I didn’t realize was how many guys also got dropped before me, and I ended up in 7th.
I had an epiphany whilst riding all by myself, trying to hold a race pace into a headwind over rolling terrain. I thought, “why the fuck do I do this sport? I’m clearly not good- I mean I just got dropped. Why don’t I just quit?” My legs were dead, my breathing hurt, and I was cramping in my core and legs. I’m sure we’ve all been there. How would you answer that question? The common answer, I think, is “because it’s fun” or “because it’s cool to push yourself” or something. My answer is unique, though. Forgive the backstory info here, but my brother recently passed away after a long battle with cancer, which at one point resulted in a leg being amputated. No matter how much I hated my life in the race, I know that he would’ve traded anything to be in my shoes. So my answer is “because I can and am physically able to.”
Sorry for the long post. I don’t have many cycling friends, and my other friends wouldn’t understand what I’m trying to say here.