Sunday, July 18, 2010

Bike Racing

Been watching the Tour de France? I have. Sometimes several times a day. It's interesting to watch and observe those guys racing... I'm sad to see the fire gone from Lance's eyes. You can totally see that he's just not 'in it' anymore. Watching him get dropped on a climb when he's not even breathing hard and there are still 50+ guys in the group who have not been dropped... it's just sad. But I can see how you really need the mental FIRE to have the will to put your body through something like that. Clearly he does not have that fire this year.

I'm not a fan of Contador. I know he's a good rider and all, but classic example of why I don't like him is what he did to Vino on Friday. Chased down his own teammate right before the line and snatched the win away from him... only to give it to a guy on another team. What an Ass.

This morning on Oahu we had our own version of the Tour. El Tour de Pineapple Fields. Lol. Pretty much the same thing as the Tour de France except not that many strong riders showed up and we only did two 16ish mile loops around the north shore... BUT, each loop included a decent 5ish mile climb. We'll call it a category 3 climb, though really I have no idea how they do those calculations.

Unfortunately there were only about a dozen women who showed up to race this morning. And our strongest competitor opted to race with the men instead of the women. Honestly, I thought that was quite disrespectful on her part. (And I told her that after the race... keep reading...) The message she sent by opting to race with the men was, "You ladies are not strong enough to push me..." I disagree. I think we would have given her a really great race today. Anyway...

The plan for our Pac Velo team to get the win included having one teammate, Maria, ride on the front for the first loop and set a solid pace that might whittle down the field a bit. Then at the bottom of the climb the second time around, Jenny would attack, I would follow whichever gal chased her, then if she/we caught Jenny, it would be my turn to attack. It was a good plan to get Pac Velo the win. And we got it. The race unfolded exactly as planned, except that I never got a chance to attack because the gal chasing Jenny wasn't strong enough to catch her after the first attack. She was a good strong rider, but clearly had not done the type of hill/interval training required to be able to respond to attacks on a steep climb. I kinda felt bad listening to her wheezing trying to get any bit of air into her lungs... and I was just sitting on her wheel as we watched Jenny ride away. She looked to me once to come around and take a pull but given that it was my teammate up the road going for the win, I couldn't really do that. And I told her that. She understood team tactics so didn't argue about it at all.

So there I was, hanging out behind this gal who was wheezing and I was just riding on her wheel and thinking that even though it was the appropriate 'team' thing to do, it felt unsportsmanlike somehow. Because really, what I was supposed to do was sit on her wheel until the finish and then sprint by her for second place. But that just seemed wrong. But I was NOT going to pull a Contador and drag her up to Jenny because what if she got some crazy burst of energy in sight of the finish and rode by for the win? Then *I* would be the ass and I wasn't going to have that. But as it turned out, we went slow enough that Jenny was pretty much out of sight, this gal was still wheezing, so when we got to a steeper pitch about 3/4 of the way up the hill, I geared down and put in my own attack and rode to the finish alone. At least I could kind of earn my second place finish.

I have to say though, it was one of the most unfulfilling races of my life. I'm not disappointed because I was second, but I would have liked to have actually been able to race today... and by race, I mean give my all. In playing the teammate card, my 'job' today was to mark this other gal, and I did that, but it didn't take an all out effort to do so. And that's why I say unfulfilling. I don't think I actually make a good domestique. Maybe because it's not actually my 'job' and I don't get paid to do this stuff like those pro guys do? Or maybe I'm just too competitive to accept a second place when I wonder if maybe I would have been able to win given the chance to try? We'll never know.

Anyway, after the race I rode another loop by myself... just trying to collect my thoughts. As I finished up I saw the strongest gal, (also named Michelle) walking to her car. I rode up behind her and asked her, in a nice way I think, why she chose to race with the men instead of the women. I knew what her response would be. I knew it because I'd just come to the same conclusion while riding that hill for a 3rd time... so I wasn't angry or upset at her, but when she asked me how my race went, I did tell her that it would have been a lot more fun had she raced with the women. She wanted to be pushed, and she thought she would be pushed more by the men than by the women. Maybe. Maybe not. I told her that I respect her as a rider and that having her in the race to play with today would have made the whole thing way more interesting and fun. Which is why we race, right?

In the end, I'm not stroked on bike racing right now. I think I would be if we had a bigger stronger group of gals to race with locally. The gals are here... there are plenty of strong female riders on Oahu. They just don't show up to race. Probably because it's not really that much fun. But it would be fun. If they showed up...It's like Which came first? The chicken or the egg??

11 comments:

Kathy said...

I think you are right that you are probably better suited to GC! However, I bet on another day you could be convinced of the values of being the domestique. If you were in a race where you had to, as Phil L. might say, "turn yourself inside out" setting a pace for the group and your gal won and you knew it was because you had crushed yourself in the first part of the day - that has to feel good. Now that's good work.

Too bad the girls won't come out and race, though! Not that I have ever done a road race, mind you...

Michelle Simmons said...

I think you're right, Kathy! Last year at this race my role was to attack attack attack off the front... Make it hard and fast... I ended up 4th but was MUCH happier last year bc of my effort. I ripped myself apart for the sake of my team and loved it! This year I was not tired ad I crossed the finish line, which was unfulfilling. For me, it's not about winning as much as it is about putting out my best effort.

MaineSport said...

Good note. As for Lance and the TdF, I agree. Maybe he's saving himself for Kona- 15 months from now.

Angela and David said...

Is this the race you were talking about in Lubbock? I don't get bike racing. I'd suck as a domestique. I understand team sports but I don't get team bike racing. It's not like the whole team has to cross the finish line together. That should be the new rule in cycling. Your only as fast as the slowest member of your team.

GoBigGreen said...

Bike racing is sooo different than Tri, or TT for sure. It can get confusing if you dont have a plan ( sounds like you did have one!) and sometimes the work you do is more intimidation/threat/blocking than actual physical labor. I know you know this, but it sure beats getting dropped IMO:) the mental stuff i mean!
As for the woman racing with the guys, we have a few women Cat 1-2 that do that alot and dont race with the 1-2-3's.. I can see why they do it, and as you know when you compete with people stronger than you YOU DO have to pull from within. Maybe you can relate to swimming with guys that are stronger.
No right or wrong answer I know, and sometimes when the races are AM and then PM the women can do both.
We have ALOT of women racing in MN but we never get a huge turnout, just seems there are too many summer things going on.
Sorry so long:(

jessithompson said...

WOW - such a cool post. I have thought a lot about the same things lately. I think riding with and for a team would be really rewarding in a different way, but you definitely need the numbers to have that ability to work together. Great post. Really enjoyed reading it.

Charisa said...

GS is for you :)

Big Daddy Diesel said...

The joys of bike racing, only one really gets the glory and the rest is left doing the dirty work, sometimes the dirty work is fun, sometimes is just flat out boring, like in your race. When the other racer blew her lung and look at you for support, personally I would have taken the lead, slowed (i know, i know) the pace and get caught by the peleton. That other racer would have just shelled in the line just wanting to finish the race in one piece.

Katie A. said...

I'm addicted to watching the Tour right now. And you're right, it's just sad to see Armstrong right now - even after his grear performance in stage 16.
Good for you for cooling off then talking to that chic. You not only showed your a strong rider, but a strong woman :)

kerrie said...

i'm pretty tired just reading about all of the stuff that you are up to outside of 'triathon' right now. i don't think that i would make a very good domestique either as i really think that the fittest person should win....the whole team tactic thing is a little irritating(probably why i never really got into bike racing).
as for all of the swim stuff....yeah. there is this really cool 50 yr old woman from here who does that maui swim and is crazy fast(her name is eney) - i think she does quite well overall still.

HEATHER @ runfastermommy! said...

I was on the edge of my seat two days ago (I think it was two days ago) when Lance was *this close* to a stage win. Oh well. You are right, you can just tell he's over it. Meanwhile...I am curious to see what he does with all of this Ironman talk...