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??