20 February 2009

À La Première Course

Saturday is my first race. I've been riding for a little over a year, but I got injured in January last year and didn't get to race (or get anywhere near the sort of shape where I'd feel comfortable racing) for the entire season.

I decided on a whim to race this weekend last weekend. We have two of the best central Texas races; the Walburg Classic, which I'm competing in (Category 5B), and the Pace Bend Road Race. I'd wanted to compete at Pace Bend, because it's a totally closed course (no cars), and word is it's one of the nicest races. However, I waited to register owing to a delay in collegiate licensing, and missed the window for my rider classification. Incidentally, Walburg ended up being the race for me.

However, deciding to race on a whim a week ago doesn't leave one with ample time to prepare. As I paid my race dues, I sat and tried to think of ways to prepare this week. One week isn't enough time to get in better shape, so I decided most of my riding would be dedicated to refining skills (sprint tactics, climbing, etc.), and preparing equipment. Alternately, the week would be really busy with school and I had to take care of that too.

This week ended up going almost comically bad. Tons of obstacles emerged in totally unexpected ways not entirely in my control. I had car trouble (wouldn't start two mornings this week), camera issues that seriously impacted my photography class (a camera I got used was defective), and a number of other problems. A lot of the stress affected my sleep, too.

My training rides didn't go especially well, but at least I got on a bike. On Wednesday, I had a cup of coffee for whatever reason almost immediately before riding, and I realized later I hadn't eaten right, and it really hit me hard. My heart didn't respond well to agressive riding, and I had a bad stomachache. Today, my easy spin-out, pre-race ride was hampered as I suddenly realized about half an hour into it that I hadn't eaten more than a piece of toast when I woke up that morning. Thankfully, my buddy (and teammate) Matt had a chocolate PowerBar on him. If you've eaten a PowerBar before, you know that they taste terrible until you are working out and starving. That powerbar was delicious. All in all, very little benefit from the training rides this week outside of saddle time and hanging out with my friends on the bike. Also, I apparently don't eat right when I'm stressed out.

I did manage to get my equipment pretty well prepped though. I got some shoe covers earlier in the week, and they were hard to find. Incidentally, after checking two other shops, I did find some non-insulated ones at Austinbikes. I love that bike shop. You're going to see me mention them again in a bit. They don't even sponsor me or anything, they're just some serious quality guys who will treat you right (and their shop happens to have some interesting stuff you can't get elsewhere). Drew, one of the mechanics, also looked over my derailleurs, gratis. He said my drivetrain was really clean, in good condition, and that I obviously took care of it. This is the smoothest that my bike has ever run. Awesome.

Back to the things going poorly theme, the forecast for tomorrow in Walburg is windy, wet, and not too warm. I worried about having warm enough clothes, but fortunately my friend (and teammate) Joey loaned me a baselayer that should cut the worst of it out.

I'm anxious about the racing conditions being bad, and other people's inexperience causing an accident. Regardless, I got the wind direction from the forecast and the course map and started planning out where in the peloton me and my teammates (for this race, Josh and Kenneth) need to be to let the other dudes eat the wind for us.

I also finished prepping my equipment. I changed my tires to my racing ones, some nice Red Michelin Pro3 Races that I got for Christmas (thanks, mom and dad), and then I cleaned and polished my bike frame, and shot some tri-flow in my cable housings. After I got the bike back together, I lubed my chain again with a slightly thicker lube than I usually use (I'm a big fan of Rock 'n Roll products, Red is my everyday stuff).

I just realized parts of this post sounds like a big plug for a couple of things. Either way, those are things that have served me well.

I must go to bed now. Je dois me coucher.

Wish me luck tomorrow!

19 February 2009

À La Première fois.

I've created a blog specifically for cycling-related things in my life. Why? Well, for one, so many things in my life revolve around cycling in one way or another, I thought it would be best to not crowd up a general blog with bike stuff, and not to compromise the bike stuff with too general of a context.

Furthermore, I've noticed the trend of "openness" (through means such as these sorts of public journals, etc.) as a way of fostering community from professional cycling on down, even permeating the local communities, such as here in Austin. Blogs end up being a functional way to keep up with the training, racing, and happenings of a lot of comrades. Additionally, they provide a public, open face to a rider in a sport where that sort of visibility could be beneficial in finding new opportunities.

So, on that note, a blog seemed like a good way to communicate ideas effectively, keep up with fellow racers and other members of the community, and as a sort of PR tool. I'm probably not going to do anything ridiculous like put this URL on a business card or my bike or what have you, though. Even though I'm not a fan of overbearing self-promotion, I'd still be pleased if this blog acquired a readership.

So, follow publicly, if you please; and tell your friends if you'd like.