Problems At The Season Opener

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H.L. Mencken

I’m flying back from the Sea Otter Classic reflecting on one of the worst races of my career, trying to evaluate objectively without being overly emotional about this experience. I didn’t really want to go and do this race, knowing that I was sick, on antibiotics, and generally not feeling great. My decision was to go anyway and see if it came around. It didn’t, and now that the race is over I have to try and take something away from this experience that is positive. When you don’t go well it is tough to pull the good stuff out of your races, but I think it is important to always learn something from bad performances. I made some decisions over the past few weeks that were likely wrong, but now that they have been made, how to move forward and go on to the next challenge….

The obvious factor for this race is I was ill. How ill? Well I was pretty much dropped by everyone, instantly. Not just the lead group, everyone. Remembering that in this race last year I was the one pushing the pace, obviously I was not myself. When I got sick over the last few weeks all of the power and strength in my body was sapped, and I was left with completely empty legs. I started each stage hoping that it would come around, but it really didn’t. So what positive stuff can be taken from this race?

Well it was my first chance to test my new rig, my Orbea Scape. This was my first chance to try the bike in a race scenario, which gave me some time to mess around with the fit over the four days. This is a really beautiful Scandium bike, with full XTR components, Fox RLT forks, Profile bars, stem and seatpost, Maxxis tires and a Fizik saddle to top it off (orange to match!). The geometry is awesome, a nice long top tube so that I can ride a short stem and have the comfort of a long reach for climbing, but an aggressive position behind the front wheel for descending. I was already comfortable on the bike on my first ride it fit me so well. But racing is different, so I cut my bars narrower, cut down the fork, and moved my saddle a little – all to improve the feel at speed. I also got to try out the new Shimano mountainbike shoes, which are like butta! So comfy, a lot of improvement on last year.

The second positive was I had a week where I was away from home lying in bed when I wasn’t racing. I had my legs up, using my Compex to recover from stages, watching hours of MTV and Law and Order. This has probably been the most down time I have taken in a while, and even though I would stress myself a little with racing, I rested so much better than I ever do at home, which probably sped up some of my recovery for the upcoming weeks. I have another week on antibiotics, but I am sure some better health is on the horizon.

I cheered up a little when I was sent samples for my new Saucony gear, some Powerbar goodies and a whole lotta Maxxis tires. It is triathlete Xmas when I go down for my first races in the US. But you have to take the bad with the good. Nothing like a solid humbling to give you perspective and it is tough to stay positive under those conditions. I have to keep telling myself "this is not me"?. I honestly never even raced over the week, I was ?riding?. Even at my worst, I can still crack the top 20, so I know that when I am actually racing I am going to be fast this season. I had it a few weeks ago, just have to go home and find it!

To all my sporting friends, may your health be with you, and see ya in Temecula!

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