Summer’s Over

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The Summer of Bike is officially over.

I had planned to finish things off with the Boston Mayor’s Cup, but my son came down with a high fever, and I couldn’t leave him alone.  It’s not how I had planned to end the season. I was locked and loaded:  clean bike, fresh legs, gear staged, well fed.  But in the end, I was where I needed to be.

Nonetheless, I spent the balance of the weekend feeling blue-balled and looking for ways to relieve myself. There was a race down in Connecticut on Sunday, but that felt too far away.  So, instead, I ran 10 miles in the morning, then did an easy spin on the bike in the afternoon, getting back home just before the skies opened.

The mornings are cold now. I’m fighting daylight. This season of transition is the toughest one for me.  In a few weeks, I’ll run the BAA 1/2 Marathon.  13 miles seems easy at this point, but I won’t run it fast. Or so I say.

And it’s back on rollerskis, too. Because I’m way behind on the ski workouts. Sure, I’ve been “ercolating” in the basement, but that’s not the same as balancing while on a moving object. Then it’s onto the snow. I’m having a hard time motivating for winter right now. But I’ll be ready when the snow falls.

For now, I want to revel in the summer. It was a good one. I found my cycling legs again after many years. I fell in love with my bike again. I raced some races and won some money. And I’ll be back.

Next year.

Portsmouth Criterium 2014

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My summer of bike continued at the Portsmouth Criterium last Sunday. But I had low expectations. My body was confused by the sudden drop in temperature — 90 degrees and humid just the day before — to 70’s and dry.  And my quads were still drilled from a running workout a few days earlier.

I had a rough start.

Off the line, my pedal eluded my shoe until most of the field had passed me.  That made the first 5 laps brutal.  High speed, the field strung out, gaps opening up.  All the while, I was trying to move up to a safer spot at the head of the race.  But I was finding the good line through the corners and eventually made it to the top 15 and settled in.

After a few more laps, I was feeling pretty good. I pushed my bike harder and harder in the corners, passing riders each time, and confused why they were taking slower lines.  My LOOK 695 handled whatever I threw at it. I pedaled through the apex. I leaned low. I went wide. I went tight. Only once or twice did the tires start to slip and the bike skip sideways.

I was in love with the bike again. I had a fleeting thought or two of my old Richard Sachs and how that bike handled the typical New England criterium in a very different way. It boosted my confidence. So when I found myself at the front of the field and a break going clear, I attacked and bridged up to it.

I didn’t last very long. For a strong as I was feeling, I still didn’t have the high-end recovery to cross the gap and maintain the speed.  Half a lap later, I was detached and sat up, feeling like my day was done.   I saw my family on the side, cheering me on, excited to see me at the front of the race.

So I recovered and found myself competitive again. As the race heated up, I was fighting for and holding position in the corners.  On the straightaways, I snuck up the sides to gain a few positions.  I missed the final break — there’s no way I would have been able to hang in it — but stayed at the front.

Until the sprint.

And I wound it up. Usually I would have sat up, satisfied just to finish. But all of a sudden, I was a fucking bike racer. So I sprinted hard.  Bogged down. Sat down. Shifted to a lower gear and wound it up again.

And somehow managed to squeeze into 15th place.  It was the last paying place in the race. But I was happy to take it.  I couln’t remember the last time I was in the money in a bike race.

The payout — $15 — didn’t even cover the cost of entry. But for me — especially with my son watching — the prize was far greater than the money.