Thursday, May 2, 2013

Closing of the 2013 collegiate cycling season

Wow, these past two months of the collegiate road cycling season have been a blur.

There have been ups and downs, and I'm still not totally back together again healthwise - yes, this week I've been off the bike for 3 days already due to feeling generally icky and exhausted in a lets-not-push-through kinda way.

The highlights of the season for me:
1. having the honor of being the men's team captain and bringing in a season of regained team spirit and many victories all around. This photo is of an inter-team ride and pizza party with NYU. Who ever said ordering pizza while riding a bike is a bad idea?

2. taking the time off the bike (or on the bike, slower than normal) to teach skills and help bring a well prepared, confident group of new racers to the collegiate season. And, watching them win! It's true, as they say, those who can't do teach. This is what has really redeemed the season for me. Just last week I had the joy of seeing one of our new men's racers take a bronze medal at the eastern conference championships, and it felt like a win of my own.

3. remembering that riding and racing are not always about results. It's nice to win and do well, but sometimes finishing is winning. And, when you aren't killing yourself at the front, sometimes you get to appreciate the race course a lot more. I bet nobody in the front group of the race saw that waterfall midway through the climb!

4. teamwork. Again, sometimes finishing is winning. My favorite road race after getting sick this year was the RISD/Brown road race, a rolling course with Battenkill-like dirt sections, which was deceptively difficult and exhausting to ride. After flatting at the start line (oh!), and then hovering off the back of the race I caught a teammate who was placed to do well who had flatted, and offered him a wheel exchange (as I was not in contention, I would wait for the next wheel car to come). I then restarted on course as fragments of the women's feild was coming through and rode next to one of my teammates (no drafting allowed for those not in the same field!) for about 20 miles until the course took it's toll and she said, "The social portion of this race is over! I'm hurting and can't talk right now!" at which point I took off up the road and ended up catching a few guys from my own field, including my teammate Daniel. He had "bonked", or became hypoglycemic and his body stopped working properly after not fueling adequately in the first half of the race, and he was in baaaaad shape - swerving in the road, not making eye contact, mumbling speach. Knowing we still had quite a bit of milage ahead of us, and that we were in the middle of nowhere with no cell phones and only scattered marshals, the best option was to keep going. So, I gave him all of my remaining food and sat up as straight as possible to make myself as effective a wind shelter as I could so he could do less work, knowing that it would hurt but I had enough in the tank to make it work. And, then when the food wasn't enough, I started zipping back and forth to find more food from elsewhere (more GU from other riders ahead, a can of soda from a police officer, a biscuit). And, finally, with a lot of coaxing in the final miles, we both made it over the finish line together. Finishing is winning, and everyone on the team finishing is even more winning.

Above is a photo of me during that race while I was on my way back with the can of soda, looking pretty relaxed and feeling pretty good about the day despite being so far off the back of the peleton.

About half of the team at the RISD/Brown race weekend

Now that the semester is over, most of the undergrads will depart for home. But, riding in New Haven continues! I'm still hoping my health will get it together and allow me to be competative for the track cycling season. But, if not, I'll still enjoy the ride!

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