What's Cool In Road Cycling

Homeboy: Revelations Of A Racer

So I’m not rambling on to the deaf – for those of you who e-mailed me with some suggestions I would like to say “Thank you” and the words of inspiration are always very helpful. Sometimes all I need is a little step back, to refocus my attention on the bigger picture and allow myself see things not so finite.

In addition to the e-mails I got some wayward advice from a local Belgian. Sunday I competed in an Espoir kermese in Anzegem, Belgium. Being only 40 kilometers away I wasn’t too concerned with being there on time, but I left with my teammate Travis Hagner on a good steady pace. As we turned our first few pedals southward we realized the wind was directly in our face. Our 40 kilometer ride turned into an hour and forty-five minute ride! The wind was out in force.

The race was on a slightly undulating loop of 8 kilometers. Knowing the course would be the status quo of golf kart sized roads and long lines of guttered riders my tactic was simple: stay to the front and follow as many riders as I could.

Simple enough in design but hard in execution is the way of bicycle racing. Hell, that is the reason it is so much fun. The chaotic nature of the sport with its ever varying players and courses leaves very little to the drawing board and much more the mystical voodoo sixth sense of just knowing, the champion cyclists intuition.

Today my voodoo sense was all systems a go with the execution almost to perfection and I found myself in the main split after 30 minutes of racing. This is now the second time this week I’ve found myself doing the right moves, reading the race as if it was “The Cat in the Hat” by Dr. Seuss. But then the ever-present problem starts – lets just say my mind is racing at a level above my body. Physically I’m just not quite there. It’s a tough thing to accept, but a problem with an easy solution – training, rest, time, and racing repeated throughout the week. Soon enough the fitness comes, but learning the workings of a 100+ field, that is a bit more tricky and something not taught in a book.

Cliffnotes of the race was one hour in the race. Was I pleased, not really. I walked into the local bar after I was done to get a cola to replenish some of my glycogen stores (no I didn’t get a beer, it wasn’t that bad of a race). During the wait for my cola I ended up in a conversation with a local at the race. Belgians, by an almost genetic nature, understand cycling for the physically demanding and painful sport it is. It’s something few people in the US, especially those outside cycling, can relate.

During the brief exchange the local, Phillip, said some interesting things to me. A couple of them I already knew, but sometimes you can tell yourself something a million times but then hearing if from someone once will just give it more truth. Phillip told me about how great it is to come to Belgium to learn your job. Learn your job here and you can do it anywhere else. Let’s equate a Div 1 contract here to a masters or doctrine from MIT for and engineer. Your just at the top of the hill, not really much room to go up. Revelation number two came when he told me you have plenty of time, you are young and there is still lots of time. I think my focus has been too nearsighted for my own good. This just gave me the two steps back I needed. The conversation wandered on somehow from cycling to Iraq – don’t know quite how, but it ended up there. I don’t understand how so many Europeans know more about US politics than most US politicians. I ended the conversation around this time and went about my usual post race funk (contemplation of changing the unchangeable past). This time I had a little clearer head and a bit more direction to the enigmatic goal of a contract on the horizon. The compass has been recalibrated and I’m once again confirmed on the right track.

Gregg’s Links:
Team Site: www.cyclingcenter.com
Personal Site: CyclingLinks.com
Shopping: Pricepoint.com

Like PEZ? Why not subscribe to our weekly newsletter to receive updates and reminders on what's cool in road cycling?

Comments are closed.