Banana Belt redux


One year ago this weekend, had my first official official cat 4 bike race, the Banana Belt. It was 44 degrees and rainy and I entered the race with such positive attitude and cheer despite the conditions; but sadly, the first half mile into it I hit a pot hole, flatted out, was given a spare wheel with a mis-matched cassette... and then proceeded to race the remaining 32 miles by myself, alone... in the rain (including another flat tire). During that race, there were so many times and opportunities I just wanted to call it quits and go back to my car... but I kept on and finished the race. Afterwards, I went back to my car, called my mom and cried. It was probably one of the most horrible experiences of my life.

So... fast forward to today. One year later... and here I am, at the same race that haunted me throughout all of last year. My goal today was to A) not hit a pothole,B) not get a flat and C) stick with the pack as much as possible and not let the hills get to me. As a bike racer, I am a sprinter and generally run far far away in the opposite direction of anything involving hills (which is where I normally get shed from the pack). I hate "road races" so much I have only competed in three of them and in each, failed to stick with the pack for the whole race. Who would want to pay money for that?

Apparently I am a glutton for punishment.

Actually, more than being a glutton for punishment - I am in dire need to reverse my horrible experience from last year. Pretty much, I'd like to hear the words "Banana Belt" without a shiver running down my spine. So, as more of a challenge to myself than anything else... I signed up, paid my money, and hoped for the best.

The day started off well when I didn't hit any of the potholes I hit last year (I had pothole radar) and from there, it just kept getting better. I felt myself strong and confident and able to stay with the pack and get out in front a little bit through out the race. Granted I didn't try any huge attacks... but at this point my goal was staying with everyone, not beating them. Going into the final half-mile of the 33 miles, I felt really really really good, In fact.. I was even joking with the other riders and belching loudly, trying to take the edge off. However, in that final 200 meter stretch I started having some gearing issues and was not able to get up in my "big ring" for the final sprint. As a result, I wasn't able to kick it up and really be effective in going for "placements that count". But eh, it's just an unfortunate mechanical more than anything else, nothing I'm really going to cry in my car about afterwards.

Regardless though, the important thing is that with today's moderate success in the race, I was able to completely erase my horrendous nightmares from last year. For the first time ever in a road race, I kept with the pack, I did well on the hills, and the one thing were I didn't succeed - is the thing that is the easiest for me, the sprint. Overall, I couldn't be happier... those demons from last year are gone and I have a new found confidence in myself. Which honestly, is as good as winning a race in my book any day.

In fact, I may even be considering racing "Piece of Cake" in two weeks. We'll see about that though, I don't want them to upgrade me too soon. ;)

(photo swiped from someone elses facebook)


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