Sam dropped me last night basically as soon as the road turned uphill. That’s ok – that’s what I was expecting. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – if I have to get dropped to get stronger and faster then I’ll suffer the misery of dangling wildly off the back.
As soon as he rode away from me I dropped a few gears and cranked it to try to keep him in site. Chasing sucks. And it sucks more when you’re doing it on your own. But it does make you work harder and I guess that’s the point.
We climbed at a good clip and as the road wound around and around I could catch sight of him up ahead of me on the next curve. I gritted my teeth, pedaled madly through corners, tried to find the best lines. My legs were on fire.
I started to close the gap a little and thought to myself, “That’s impossible. I shouldn’t be closing a gap on him – he must be waiting for me.”
I was only half right.
Sam had begun to dismount his bike every few yards. He would shoulder it and run for a bit and then leap back on, accelerating hard after mounting. His remounts are starting to look really clean and smooth and he’s finding his pedals right away and accelerating uphill like the path was flat. This was one of my favorite tricks when I ran cross-country. Really push the pace going up a wicked hill and then just turn on the juice coming over the crest. Everyone around you is thinking “rest, recover” when they are a few steps in front of the crest – when you jack up the pace at that moment it may hurt you something fierce but the psychological damage you are doing to your opponent is just brutal. It’s demoralizing. (I know because I’ve definitely been on the other end of that move more than a few times.)
So I was gaining ground on Sam but only because he was running half the time. That didn’t exactly make me proud but at least he was getting a good workout out of the deal – and he wasn’t “waiting” per se.
I hate when people wait on me. I fucking HATE it. Especially when I can tell. Between Sam and I this will result in a squabble absolutely right away. I get really pissed off. It usually goes something like this:
“Hey. Don’t wait for me. It’s fine to go ahead. We can regroup at the next logical point.”
“I’m not waiting. This pace is fine.”
“Dude. I can TELL you are waiting for me. Open it up – go for it. I’m fine. Really.”
“No, really. This is great. I’m totally cool.”
“GO. AHEAD. OF. ME. NOW!!!!!”
Then he gets pissed off that I’m so pissed off and drops me.
I don’t know. I realize that sometimes it’s nice to ride together and that he values it but when we are trying to hammer I feel like he should really go for it. When he waits for me I feel like I am being patronized and I can’t stand it.
He didn’t wait for me yesterday and I appreciated it. I suffered, he suffered and by the time we turned around to make the descent, my legs were trashed. We put on warm jackets and bombed down the path, light fading with every passing minute. It was five miles to get out of the park and then another six miles to get home. It was downhill most of the way barring a small rise in the last 1.5 miles.
Let me tell you – that small rise kicked my ass.
We grilled tuna steaks and ate them with a little bit of lemon juice and some wasabe. Brown rice and chocolate-hazlenut gelato and a glass of red wine.
After dinner we watched the Tour of Lombardy on TiVo. It was moving to see Bettini win such an important race following the tragic death of his brother. Here is this tiny, funny-looking little Italian man absolutely destroying himself for the victory. He fell apart as he crossed the finish line, arms raised towards the heavens, chest heaving with sobs.
Laying in bed with my legs throbbing was one of the best feelings I can remember.
I’m still worried and nervous to race on Sunday but I am staying focused on the fun aspect of ‘cross. The inclusiveness of the community, the crazy antics that ensue at the races, the wide, shit-eating grins on the muddy faces of finishers.
I promise myself to have fun. I promise myself to do the best I can, whatever that is.