Friday, March 25, 2011

How do you do?

Whenever I tell someone that I raced my bike last weekend they always ask "how did you do?", and this means "how did you place?"  I hate answering this question even when I did/placed well, because I always feel that I must explain why I did not win the race.  This will come as a shock to most people, but I don't race to win.  I know, I know.  Really, I would deep down like to win a race, but that is not what motivates me to toe the line.  Believe it or not I just like to ride bikes, and being in a race/part of the race is where it is at for me.  The thrill is the race itself, not the outcome.

Cycling is pageantry.  Man/machine vs Man/machine vs Nature.  This spectacle is a form of beauty and of brutality.  It is a pure form of locomotion that requires the human body to act as the force.  On the surface it is stunning but underlying this beauty is a viciousness that is rarely seen.  One does however get a glimpse of the rawness of the sport when kits are torn exposing road abused flesh, when competitors come together and bikes are broken.  The carnage that goes unseen is pain.  Pain inflicted.  Pain consumed.  We survive anguish and try to punish our fellow cyclists to suffer as much or more.

Why do I do this?  Is this fun?  This is about being part of something that is bigger than me.  Rolling along in a peloton I am part of a living breathing wheeled organism that is trying to explode at any moment, but yet staying together for singular preservation.  I do this because it is bigger than me, because of the bonds I form with total like minded strangers, because I can be a cycling god every time I throw a leg over a saddle.  Am I a cycling god, No...but do I feel like a cycling god?  Yes. 

So, how did I do last weekend in the race?  I didn't win.  I did however become part of something beautiful yet painful and have memories that in my mind... priceless.  In conversation on the road back from the race: "I'm gonna ride my bike really fast".

Monday, March 21, 2011

Milan - San Remo

Is anyone keeping track?  I am about to have to take my shoes and socks off to keep count on Goss' wins for this season.  If you are into numbers, this monument makes an even 8.  I would have to say that Goss is on form right now.  Did you see him ride in support of Tony Martin in Paris-Nice?  He won stage 3 and then did some monster work for the PanzerWagon in the mountain stages -really, a bunch sprinter.  Mark Cavendish's lead out man is a WorldTour sprint destroying Classics rider.  Who knew?

Pop quiz hot shot...who is going to headline HTC in the Grands?  You have one of the best sprinters in the world, if not of all time in Mark Cavendish, and you have the white hot Goss who is untouchable right now.  HTC put the number 1 on Cavo for MSR and Goss was wearing the 2.  Cheeky???  Is this real or is it slight-of-hand?  What would you do with this kind of horse power in the fold?  I haven't even mentioned the name Mark Renshaw, Yet, ok.  Mark Renshaw like Goss has just been a lead-out man for Cavo, what do you do with his speed?  Here's what I would do...I would spread it out and win every single day race, and sprint stage for the year.  Just tell me that HTC doesn't have that kind of ability. 

I didn't get to watch MSR and I feel that I missed out on a Classic of a Monument, no pun intended.  Rain, cold and a super long 298km of racing.  Throw in the Cipressa and the Poggio, and we have an old fashioned throw-down.  Look at the 8 that got away in the finale: Cancellara (Leopard), Gilbert (Omega), Ballan (BMC), Pozzato (Katusha), Scarponi (Lampre), Offredo (FDJ), Nibali (Liquigas).  To win out of a group like that, your name has to be Goss.  I would be remiss if I did not mention Stuart O'Grady (Leopard) rounding out tenth place.  O'Grady is one tough fill in the blank, I love his style and admire his grit -he is afterall a Paris-Roubaix winner. 

1 Matthew Harley Goss (Aus) HTC-Highroad 6:51:10
2 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Leopard Trek
3 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
4 Alessandro Ballan (Ita) BMC Racing Team
5 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Katusha Team
6 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre - ISD
7 Yoann Offredo (Fra) FDJ
8 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:00:03
9 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team 0:00:10
10 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Leopard Trek 0:00:12

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Don't call it a comeback

This is not a story of redemption, or a feelgood story of the little team that could.  This is not a race recap where the hero vanquishes his daemons and prevails.  This is just a story of me racing a race that took me down a few notches and let me know that fitness is a state that you either reside in or out.

I felt good going into the race last year, had visions of grandeur at least.  I moved up into the top ten and climbed with the leaders, and then over the top I was dropped.  No big deal, I let the chase group catch me and tried to do some work to catch the leaders.  This went on for awhile, and then alarmbells and the body started shutting down so I pulled the plug. 

I did everything right, I was training with power, I was on the bike logging hours.  I was on track to peak for my A race, everything was good, and there I was dropped.  What was the deal?  I can't hang with these guys?  I'm better than this, right?  I'm sick.  I'm tired.  I'm dying.  I have no top-end.  That's right.  I had no high intensity training under my belt.

How many more excuses can I come up with?  I went to Hell's Kitchen with no intentions of winning, but with a goal to finish with the pack.  Getting dropped was painful physically, but mentally it had me wondering if I was really wanting to race bikes last year.  So, this year was an affirmation of my desire to race bikes, but also of wanting to have fun doing it.  What is the point, if you can't have fun?

I had a great day today racing with some teammates and a blast road-tripping.  I did what I came to acomplish, I raced my race, climbed with the leaders and did some work in the break.  Oh yeah, I had fun.