Wednesday, July 25, 2012

"I'm Not Really a Road Racer"

"I'm really not much of a road racer." Ha! I find myself saying this all the time. Like most of the cycling world I've been poking fun of our culture with the "shit cyclist say" you tube clip ( ) and this seems to be my own quote to fit the bill. Truth is,  I spent the better part of the summer doing skinny tire races and only stepped on the mountain bike once since Brown County Dino all the way back in early June. Such a walking contradiction really. I love to hate road type races. They go against every ounce of my competitive instinct. Sitting in the pack, waiting, watching, all that rules of conserving energy. True, I do like the race tactics and love to be able to use my brain to gain some advantage when I can, but mostly it drives me nuts. Don't get me wrong, I do have fun while I'm out there, I'm just not going to weigh the results of these races too much.  

Sitting in the pack... my favorite. Coming around for another lap  in The Maple Hill  road race in Lawton, MI

So why do them? Well for one thing, it is a race. Within a 2 hour drive or less, the area offers a lot of them and it's important to get some race efforts in for cross prep. Plus, since I seem to get massive poison ivy every time I even am remotely close to it, I seem to  not have this problem out of the woods. I've loosely enforced a 2.5 hour max travel rule to myself this summer for races and it's seems to be working well. With all the travel cross season brings, and a job where I work about 60 hours a week, it's important to save my matches when I can. I do miss hitting the "usual" races in the state, but I've also enjoyed discovering new ones in the same breath. I've made it up to MI races that have been close to home and have met new people, racers, and promoters and that has been really fun. Part of the draw of racing is just that... expanding our comfort zone, meeting new people, and seeing new places. At least for me that is. 

So with that I suppose I should mention some race action.
I was able to win a crit actually, so I can't complain much. It was even my Men of Steel's team event to boot! It was a hard race against a good field of girls. My teammate Diana, motored the entire race and the two of us took a flyer off the front to escape midway through the race. It felt great to take the win at such a cool event and I look forward to this race around Parkview Field next year.

Doing some crit racing for my Men of Steel team! Great shot by Lahrman!

 I've did a crit in Lansing. Got 7th or 8th... can't really remember. I'm finding the MI group to be generally overall baller in biking. No surprises there really, it's a great state to cycling in. After that I ventured down to the Eagle Creek crit. It was just a series of bad luck for me there. I got a late start down, flatted way far away from my truck on the warm-up, barely made it to the start line, then miss-judged the finish line at the end. I got last as a result since I stopped racing like 20 yards before the real finish line. I couldn't figure out why everyone kept pedaling once I stopped... really Nik? I just eventually had to laugh at myself and be thankful it was just a bike race and not a day passing gas at work (That's anesthesia lingo for putting people to sleep). That always puts things in perspective for me. 

Celebrating a podium at Parkview Field! Crit races around a minor league baseball field... so American!

After that I did a double weekend in Kalamazoo area. Super nice races with a crit one day and a road race the next. I was once again, plagued with a flat in the crit, but made a good change during the race and fought back to be in the money. I had a good time. After that I went on a hotel hunt and ended up in the only hotel room left in the area... seems there was a huge lacrosse tournament and no one gave us cyclists the memo. Seriously, I have to re- prepare for these aspects of traveling to races. Dive hotels seem to make me cringe more and more the older I get. I spent the night freaking out about bed bugs, but never had I been so ready to get up early for a 8am race! 

Nice to meet a new bunch of racers from all over the country and world. The winner of our RR was visiting from New Zealand. 
The road race was pretty sweet. We raced around vineyards on rolling hills. I stayed smart and ended up second on the day. I wasn't really caring how well I did, but was more stoked by the fact that the race efforts and terrain were not as challenging for me.... 

This is good since my fitness is coming around for cyclocross.... 

"I'm more of a 'cross racer ya know"