I was in deep, so deep I didn’t even see the landscape bouncing by. Not deep in sand or washboard. Sure, there were plenty of patches to jar your brains out. No: I was in deep inside a dark place. A dark place where your inner critic tells you how much you suck, how you’ll never be good enough, and how you won’t make it. That little hateful voice gives you every reason to quit while obsessing about the detail of things you could have done differently.
Gravel racers that are successful can usually thank the trifecta of gravel rides: Preparation, Skill and Luck. Typically, most of us hope for at least two out of three in order to come in ahead of most of the gritty and dusty pack. I would have to say that my first gravel race was awesome because I got two of the three right … and one of those wasn’t Skill.
It seems like I just dusted off my cycling shoes from the last race of 2016. These days, time seems to fly by faster than Peter Sagan’s sprint. That same speedy sprint that I wish I had at least 50% of. That crazy fast sprint that will get me back in the game – it’s race season! Wait, already?
You’ve got to be kidding me.
What makes being a part of a team so great and why shouldn’t a person just race as an independent? I hadn’t really given it much thought before – but a couple months ago I was given clarity.
I have successfully avoided ‘Stage Races’ and ‘Omniums’ for my entire racing career – until recently when I signed up to compete in Local Bike Racing’s Sealy Stage Race. I am chalking up my recent oversight to a memory relapse… after all I am racing in the 40+ category these days. Regardless of my historical reservations and fears concerning performance: I learned a lot about surviving Stage Races and actually did surprisingly well!
With that being said: I’ll share what I figured out.
H-Town Bikin’ Babes! This article is for you ladies that believe in pedal power and pushing the limits! After all: Houston may just have the very best group of local competitive cycling chics, ever. To some: Houston might be a ‘pit’, but it’s a damn cool place for a ‘Hellhole’ (to quote Jeff Blake: thanks for the article!). Other areas in this great state of Texas don’t necessarily enjoy the same comradery in ladies competitive cycling. I’m not just saying that because I live here either. I’m saying that because it true – but it wasn’t always that way.
I have come to realize over the years that there is value in scoping out a regularly occurring competitive event (like a seasonal Criterium Race or a Cyclocross Race) before you Go for the Gold. If you do happen to win a regularly scheduled repetitive race the first time you ride it: awesome. But that is not a normal expectation because there are some dynamics at work that, even after all this time, I have only recently come to consciously realize about learning the flow.