Homeboy Espaсa: Retirement?
Retirement is a strong word. It’s a term that some people use lightly; such as Cipollini in the past. Others truly think they will retire but then find they can’t stay away and come back, like Michael Jordan. Lately it’s a term I’ve been considering quite thoroughly.
This year just hasn’t gone at all as I would have liked. There are many reasons why, but one thing is for sure, I’m just not as motivated as I was back in September when I got the results of my VOmax test. When I saw I scored a 79.5 mlO2/kg/min I was really impressed and thought, wow I really do have the potential. This motivation carried me through the ґ04 ґcross season and when I started training, again in January I had only good feelings. I’m continuing to work with my coach, Mike, and he has been doing great with my program this year. I can tell I’m still getting stronger, but something just isn’t right.
Here’s proof: The rain in Spain.
Some Bad Luck
One thing could be the lack of racing. I’ve only been able to race three times so far this year and honestly, I’ve had bad luck in all three races. The first race was in a torrential downpour and I flatted early. I got a wheel change but there was no getting back. The second race I was doing much better and again I flatted. This time however, the guys in our team car botched my wheel change so badly that I just climbed in the car. Finally, the third race was going great. I got in the good break that formed 10km into a 140km race. Unfortunately, without enough racing miles in my legs, I couldn’t hang with the break. The first six places went to guys in that break.
There Is No “i” In Team
Another thing could be the lack of structure in my team. I’ve found that two of my teammates seem to hold back even when the director tells them to pull in order to try to save energy and finish better than anyone else in the team. Personally, I’m a team player and if the director says pull, then I pull and I expect the same of my teammates. I’m not exactly sure why but our director seems to have given me the roll of captain (experience, age, not really sure) but these two just won’t listen to anything. I finally told them that I’m not making the orders; just relaying them, if they don’t like it, talk to Juan the director.
”Are you gonna work?” “I’m not gonna work… are you gonna work?”
Finally, the third reason could be the fact that I just don’t feel like I fit into this peloton any more. I’m 28 now and I’m racing mostly with a bunch of 18 to early 20 somethings who all still have the illusion that they’ll be able to turn pro. They have no idea that maybe 1 in 50 of them will make it and most likely because they know someone not because of their palmares. The atmosphere just doesn’t do it for me. It’s not like back home where in the 1/2 race everyone is hanging out shootinґ the shit before the race, we race and everyone is serious, and the it goes back to hanging out. I miss having friends in the peloton, even if they aren’t on my team. It makes racing so much more enjoyable.
So, as I’m mulling over the possibility of a retirement of sorts, at the same time I feel like I may have come out of a retirement. Actually maybe I should start calling it a sabbatical. I started bike racing 11 years ago as a mountain biker. Since then, I slowly emigrated to the road and started dabbing in cyclocross too. I’ve had some decent success in the later two and I haven’t raced my mountain bike since 2001.
That’s 8200 feet of climbing – all on dirt roads.
Due to my change in residence here in Spain, I’ve made some new friends who are not only roadies but also mountain bikers. Actually maybe I should say they’re mountain bikers who also own road bikes. So, they started telling me about this mountain bike “event”, it’s not a race they make sure to tell me, that is 65km (40mi) long with a total accumulated elevation change of 2500m (8200ft). Check out the profile. Everyone in the area doubted that I’d be able to hang (being a “roadie”), but they didn’t know my cyclocross and mountain bike background. I’ve done 24hrs of Canaan and I won a 12hr mtb race with my good friend John a couple of years back.
So, I found someone to loan me a mountain bike and some shoes and away we went. The bike was a rather humble rigid KHS frame, Marzocchi fork and a mix of Grip Shift, LX, and XT parts that have been thoroughly used. There were 130 starters, and only about 80 people finished. I came in 2nd at 4hrs5min after having flatted 4 times thanks what turned out to be a rim strip that didn’t cover all holes in the rim. I got the first flat 10min in and figured it must have been a pinch flat for not having enough tire pressure. While fixing my flat, I think almost all 130 participants passed me.
Then when I flatted again I thought it must have been the same in my rush to get going I didn’t inflate the tube enough. So, this time I inflated the tire up to 50psi. I was a little worried now, as I had used my second and last tube. When I got to the first neutral feed zone my friend Isaac gave me one of the tubes he was carrying and I kept going.
After the next long rough downhill section, I flatted again. I checked the tire and didn’t find anything; I put the tube in, pumped it up to 50psi and took off again. I had been leap frogging with a group of 5 all day. I’d flat, they’d pass me. I’d fix it and pass them back. So, I caught them and passed. Coming into the 2nd and last neutral feed, I flatted again.
The Pez Jersey brings good luck once again!
I thought there’s now way my technique is this bad. I couldn’t find anything in the tire but for some reason I looked at the rim and that’s when I found the problem. The rim strip didn’t cover all the holes. Now I was stuck, as I didn’t have another tube. Lucky one of the guys behind me came through, and I said to him. “You’re not going to believe it, I flatted again.” Then I asked if he had a tube he could loan me and he said sure as he tossed me a tube. Luckily, I had a little bit of tape on my seat post so I used it to cover up the hole. I got going again and reeled in everyone in front of me except one.
The guy that finished 1st races mountain bikes and came in about 30min ahead of me. Not too bad for 4 flats on my part. At least I wasn’t out there for 9hrs like some people. Oh yeah, and I did all that climbing the old school way with a 12-28 cassette. Since doing the mountain bike thing, I’m starting to seriously think about racing mountain bike marathons next year. So, maybe it’s not a matter of retirements but time to open a new chapter in the book of my cycling history.
Where to from here? Well, I’ve got road races lined up in May and June I may be doing a 24hr mtb race if I can round up a team. The other possibility is a trip back to the states to race out the season partly on the road and partly on the MTB in order to prep for cyclocross (where my heart truly lies). We’ll see where the road takes me, and I’ll keep you posted. As always, thanks for reading. Hasta la prуxima.
Nathan Deibert is a 28 year old young American in southern Spain racing for the new Citroлn Martos Tobalo / Escayolas Alvaro Elite-Sub23 team, and living the dream every day. Drop him an email at [email protected]
Gratuitous Sponsor Plug Thanks to:
Citroлn Martos Tobalo and Escayolas Alvaro: My new team sponsors. Citroлn Martos Tobalo is a local Citroлn dealer and Escayolas Alvaro is a molded plaster decoration company, both of which are in Carmona, Spain.
Mike Kuhn: My coach for the last 4 years and counting. If you’re looking for a great coach in the central PA area or around the world, send him an email: [email protected],
or take a look at the website: www.endurancenetwork.com
Holmes Cycling and Fitness: The best bike shop in all of central PA. They’ve got everything you need from serious race equipment to great recreational equipment. Check them out at: www.holmescycling.com
My Parents: for never telling me I was crazy through all the years of chasing this dream.