Sunday, March 8, 2009

Tunis-Roubaix

Inspired by the original, Paris-Roubaix, Texas' A&M cycling team wanted to host a road race, gruelling not only because of the competition, but because of the course itself, its surface and hills. In the States, as an homage to the French, we're calling these races Roubaix-style and they include dirt and gravel roads, difficult hills and much lower finishing rates by participants. Yesterday I raced in A&M's Tunis-Roubaix, which, for my novice category, was 40 miles with 20 of dirt and gravel several respectable hills and only 1/3 of the starters actually finishing.  Half-way through I flatted my front tire and lost four minutes to the leaders. When I had replaced it with my spare from the following wheel truck I set off to catch them and nearly did.  I managed to reach fifth place before the finish line.  

But, like last week's race at Lago Vista, not achieving my points goals taught me far more about myself and earned far more respect than first place would have.  When I fell back, I joined forty other racers who had, at some point, flatted or crashed who all seemed to be racing for the scraps of the leaders.  Knowing the tactical selfishness of the front pack, I set off on a solo bid to catch them--I was the only one.  That I nearly did catch them revealed a lot to me about the thinking of my competitors; they're far likelier to tactically fail than courageously win.  I also learned more about my own physiology.  I learned that both my lactate threshold and maximum heart rate were higher than I previously believed.  This means my training will be more intense in the weeks to come, but it also means my training is working and I have far more improvement ahead.