In search of a hard effort and eager to try out my new power tap, I entered a local crit. To prepare, I spent the whole morning wandering around the Seattle Art Museum. Then I stuffed my face with cookies and got on my bike. Despite wasting valuable minutes wrestling with an ATM and then getting thoroughly lost on my way to Seward Park, I found myself numbered-up and standing among a large crowd of racers, right on time and ready to hurt.
This large crowd of racers was a) one of the biggest large crowds of racers I’d ever been a part of, and b) composed almost entirely of cat3/4 men. Believe it or not, I’d never raced with boys before- I had brief fantasies of pulling off a Georgia Gould-esque victory, but by the time I saw my competition I was pretty certain I’d either get my ass kicked or just get crashed out two laps in.
As it turns out, neither of these things happened. I found my pace to be pretty similar to that of these dudes, and after the few laps it took to figure out the course and the flow of the group (and get a handle on my road bike again) I was riding in a pretty good spot. I even tapped into that ultra-focused mode I can sometimes find where all I see or hear or think about is the wheels around me. Since my life’s been pretty hectic lately, it was a relief to simply think about shifting, drafting, and cornering for a half-hour.
That’s when everything went to shit. I was riding well, getting cocky and, unluckily, in perfect position for an attack. I got a little carried away (totally carried away) and found myself counter-attacking, then burying myself to counter attack my own attack on the next lap. I was motivated by both an irrational fear that the race was almost over (I wasn’t looking at my watch or the lap counters) and pure astonishment at the kind of effort I seemed to be able to make. I rode as hard as I could simply because I could, and essentially mountain-bikered my way into a pain hole I couldn’t crawl out of. I got dropped two laps later.
The race ended two laps after that and I rode happily home after chugging two water bottles in a row. My power tap and hub got in a dispute mid-race, so I still have no idea what numbers I should be shooting for, but I think we can safely assume they’re freakishly high.