I can die happy now
Back in 2012, I got my first road bike for my 17th birthday and it changed my life. Forget girls, drugs and alcohol, I have to be up for a bike race at the asscrack of dawn. Sometimes I think I should go back and smack myself. After a little research, I found the closest race to me: Kelly Cup and somehow got myself signed up for the Juniors 15-18 category. I had no idea what I was walking into. I got completely smacked down and with such a busy summer, did not return until the next year. I did some research and realized that it is normal for the Juniors categories to be much harder than the beginner categories. Lesson learned.
Fast forward to Kelly Cup 2015: I have just come off my second season of collegiate bike racing and am having my best season yet. This year has already included five top 5s including my first win plus improvements in power that have made me very hopeful for my future in the sport. And yet, I was in for another smackdown.
After some consulting with my coach, we concluded that I would probably be OK doing both the Category 3 and P123 races. However, we failed to take into account the fact that finals can put even someone with ice flowing through their veins on edge. This leads to some fairly heavy physiological stress that I have not experienced before but as I now know, that’s what 4 engineering courses in one semester does to you.
So, I got to the race and it was just brutally hot, it actually felt like someone had opened the door to hell after the freezing winter we had. In his book, Phil Gaimon suggested getting tick marks on your upper thigh to indicate temperature based on how low your scrotum sags. It would have been really easy to tell the differences using that method. The day varied between 70 and 95 degrees depending on whether the sun was behind the clouds plus 70%+ humidity. If my sweat had been collected, it would have been exactly an assload of sweat.
After realizing that someone had unintentionally (or intentionally, I’m gonna give Baltimore the BOTD in case of more riots) taken one of my gelbots, I got in a solid warm-up and felt really good. For most people, that would be a good thing but I have never done well in races where I feel awesome right beforehand. The Category 3 was first and during the race, I felt like every time I put down power to accelerate through the pack, I was unable to sustain any effort. The pack was small too, so there was little chance to recover in the draft. Thankfully, Ezra bridged to the right move and stayed away with his group of 3 to come in 2nd. I worked with a 20/20 guy to slow the group and put in a move at the bell but couldn’t stay away. Drifted in for a post-pack finish and congratulated Ezra.
The good thing about the day is that I had the foresight to bring my water jug (the 5 gallon type that goes in a water cooler). I have that because at WVU, we were advised to not drink the tap water due to mine tailing and fracking and so we went to “Gucci Krogers” and purchased it. I have had it since and it has been invaluable in providing hydration. This summer, I am planning on building a rig so that it can be stable and pour out of a car and not move.
The time in between races consisted of eating food, laying down with my feet up and drinking most of the water jug. As we were waiting for them to open the gates for the P/1/2/3 race, my dad showed up which gave me a huge morale boost after a poor showing earlier. I lined up near the back, not wanting to get in the way of faster riders which turns out to not matter when you start on a downhill. For some reason, I had poor clip-ins at both races and I almost watched the field rocket away from me. You can get an idea of the rest in the video below.
The video doesn’t show it (youtube only allows 15 minute videos), but I was dropped at 17 minutes. Overall, it was little bit of a disappointing day since I was hoping to get a top 5 in the Cat 3 race and at least finish the P123 but I’ve had terrible weekends followed by great ones in the past. So, next stop: Tour of Somerville.
These past couple months have been interesting: helping run the cycling club, dealing with a 17 credit course load and trying to find an internship have not been easy even if I only fully succeeded with two of them (hint: I’m lifeguarding this summer). I really needed someone to look up to, so when I started reading “Pro Cycling on $10 a day” by Phil Gaimon somewhere in the early part of the semester, it gave me some incredible inspiration.
The book is the story about how an overweight kid utilizes a sport to transition from an unhealthy childhood to the top of the professional ranks while finishing college. It made me realize that while my life may seem difficult, it is entirely possible to not only succeed but thrive in a college environment both educationally and athletically. I finished it in about two days the first time and have read it two more times since then. It makes for easy reading compared to my statistical thermodynamics class and gets me through the times when it is difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
The one huge lesson that the book taught me is that you have to be proactive in order to be prepared for certain opportunities. Even though I didn’t get a technical internship this summer, I’m planning to prepare myself further for what I want to do in the future. This will include learning basic coding, CAD, FEA and hopefully carbon fiber lay-ups. In addition, I have the opportunity to make huge strides in fitness this summer since I’m essentially being paid to sit around and recover every day. Although I won’t have the opportunity to work in a lab like I wanted, I do have an opportunity for growth that has not presented itself in a while and needless to say, I’m pretty damn excited.
Wow did I get lazy this semester with these write ups. Maybe just more busy considering that I’m taking 17 credits and running our team. Either way, I’ve got some catching up to do so let’s do this.
NCSU: Why do we even bother to race in February? Sure, the RR got up into the high 40s but the crit on Sunday was in the single digits with wind chill. How does that even happen in the South? Results: long breakaway caught in the RR with no good placing to show for it and some crazy headwinds. Criterium was my first win of the season and ever so that was super awesome despite the bitter cold.
William and Mary: Snowed out. We actually considered driving to Gainesville to do UF’s race weekend but thought better (or worse?) of it and stayed in College Park on our trainers.
UNC/UNCW: Also snowed out. Went to church with Morgan instead in order to complete and assignment and was able to go home for my brother’s birthday. (AKA another weekend on the trainer)
William and Mary 2: Electric Boogaloo: Amazingly, they pulled off getting a race in less than 2 weeks (pretty nice job). Crit Saturday in which I tried to follow every move, ended up tiring my self out and came in 7th. Eric Chrabot, an MBA student on the team mentioned that he was doing research on SweetFROG when it was across the street. He and Ryan went to get free samples, walking past the girls selling girls scouts. RR Sunday meant a late return. Launched a big attack on the 1 climb in lap 3/4. Group shattered but came back together. Threw 1 more hard attack with ~1.5 miles to go, came into the final 200m solo but was caught, ended up around 10th.
Spring Break: Amazing team bonding experience in Asheville, NC. Got to climb Paris Mountain and Mount Mitchell. Merped a lot that week.
Duke: The RR ends on a climb that is much harder and longer than I remembered from last year. I put in a hard attack at the end into the climb, thinking that my power to weight was big enough to bring me to the end. It wasn’t and I got 15thish. Duke got a very cool new criterium course in a neat area of Durham with lots of restaurants surrounding a minor league baseball park. What they didn’t count on was one of the teams arriving in their team bus in the middle of our race and taking up half the road. I tried to lead Zach out into the finish but we were pushed wide into the final corner and finished DFL (we didn’t crash).
Navy: Holy crap was this one windy. Rolling course, super windy. Tried to get away with a combination of riders multiple times. Finally followed one of the Virginia Tech riders over a climb, not thinking much of it but we got 4 guys rotating and had a decent gap. 2 fell off but with Tech keeping the pace low, we grew the gap to 1:30 in the last lap when a rider from Duke completed the bridge. I attacked twice from farther out and took 3rd place. Crit was on a cool course but I flatted in front of my family and girlfriend (the only race they’ve seen me in so far).
WVU: Amazing road race with a steep, hard climb followed by 15 miles of rolling along a valley floor. We engaged in some leapfrogging with the A’s since they were going along at parade pace for a while. This got really annoying especially when I found out that my 6th place finish was relegated to 10th because of a yellow line rule violation that I was never warned about or told about at all during the race. Crit was not worth mentioning: OK course, mediocre result.
ASU write-up soon.