Monday, September 7, 2009

Arrived

I've just finished 4 races in 5 days. My best placing was 8th--the other 3 weren't even top ten. This after my coach wrote to me:
I believe you can do well at all of the races, if you play it smart and don't try to take control too early.
After fifteen races this season, I'm only 30% towards my goal of a category upgrade. And it's got me thinking that there's something I have yet to learn in my current category. Cycling's karmic wheel.

As much as I want to upgrade and race at a more competitive level, I must take stock of where I am now and what more I intend to gain by upgrading. An offer last night via text message from a competitor brought all this to light. I received this text:
Hey Zak, would you like to talk strategy with me and my teammates?
And then:
2nd lap three of my teammates you and aaron, take off from about 12 back if one doesn't make it they slow the pack
This is akin to off-board trading in Monopoly. I was flattered. Aaron and I had been chosen to collude with another team, a successful team with strength and style. And this morning, the strategy worked, sort-of. We were able to set one of our new, united team's riders off on a solo breakaway that would have won had he not crashed on the particularly technical course.

The point is I've earned the respect of my teammates and now my competitors. I'm in contention for every race I enter and I can hang with any group ride I show up to. I may not be winning races, but I'm riding very well and making fast friends.

When I first started racing, my only goal was to be on a team and for my teammates to want me at all their races. And I've achieved that. What's more, I had no idea what that would really mean. It means lifelong friends, adventures and road trips and five thousand calorie diets.

I want to ride faster and cleaner and that requires upgrading, but outside performance, how much better can it possibly get?