This past weekend was an "Intro to Race" weekend on two fronts: teaching at a clinic on Saturday and riding a training race on Sunday, which served as my first race attempt this year. On Saturday, I instructed at this year's installment of NEBC's annual "Intro to Race" clinic. Almost half of the participants were women this year, 22 in total! Helped by teammates Ashley and Janet, I got to work with a group of 7 women, bringing them through the basics of pacelining, rotating pacelines, bike handling topics, and other skills. I found it to be a really fun experience! It's amazing how much we take for granted on the bike. I mean, there was a time when knowing to put your inside pedal "up" into a corner was a new concept. When riding within 2 feet of someone's wheel was terrifying, and when the smallest descent made you feel you were flying. (Ok, well, sometimes I still get that last feeling. :) Sharing my love of cycling with new aspring and eager racers felt great. Seeing their faces light up with a smile when they felt something new on the bike renewed my love for cycling, and reminded me once again why I love the bike.
Sunday was another freezing cold day. Ward and I rode from home to the Wells Ave training race, then rode back home. On the way there, we thought we might be late, especially if they combined the A and B fields due to lower attendance (it was Easter, after all, and cold and incredibly windy, too), so we hauled ass out there. In strict adherence to Murphy's Law, we got there much earlier than desired. This left us soaked though with sweat and waiting outside in windy, snow-flurrying, 30-degree temperatures. By the time we started, I felt borderline hypothermic! I had on my lobster gloves, heavy tights (I still have not ridden this year without tights and booties), neoprene booties with woolie-boolies, balaclava and windblock headband, Craft base layer, thick fleece mid-layer, and a Verge Warsaw jacket (okay you get the idea) and I DID NOT overheat during this race. Never even unzipped the jacket.
I was chatting at the back of the pack at the start, and I didn't hear the official say "roll off" to start the race. I swear it was a cyclocross start! A few guys went all out from the proverbial gun, got away, and stayed away the whole 40 laps. Crazy. Me on the other hand... not such a spectacular display. My frozen, stiff legs averaged 350 watts for 30 seconds into the headwind around the first turn and I felt like the kid left on the sideline at gym class who nobody picked for the team. I was warming the pine in this ballgame. I sat up and waited for the pack to come around again. Dropped in the first lap at Wells Ave in April. This was quite the awakening. I got back in and stayed in for half the race, completely pegged riding mostly at the back, getting whipped off the back and chasing back on every lap for 20 laps. Then I popped momentarily. I actually began hyperventilating. I kept gasping but couldn't breathe. Freaky stuff. Luckily, it's a training race for a reason, and I caught my breath and recovered while waiting for the pack to come around. I stayed in the rest of the race, but played much the same game at the back with legs that felt like cement blocks.
I felt disappointed, but I definitely have to look at this in context: Sunday was the very last day in my first 5-week training block, and I was wrecked. I had ridden hard the day before after teaching outside for hours in the cold, sprints on Friday, and power work on Wednesday. Oh, and I forgot to mention one more thing... I also did not sleep Saturday night. Wicked insomnia. I awoke at 1:30 am and just laid there ALL NIGHT, counting my heart beats, listening to Chopin nocturnes on my iPod, and doing deep breathing exercises. I finally dozed when the sun rose. (By the way, I've found listening to music does not put me to sleep. Quite the opposite! I get excited by various colors, poignant chords, rubato, and other elements of affect in the piece, and my heart rate increases slightly.) Anyways, after all this, I feel a scratchy throat, so for fear of getting sick, I'm going to play it really safe the next few days, take lots of Emergen'C and enjoy some late afternoon naps!