It’s a call to arms to overturn the current administration… link to nyvelocity
It’s been an amazing season. Took a while to come back from breaking my wrist on the rocket ride back on February, but once I found my grove things were going well. My mileage is way down on where I had hoped to be, but it happens.
I finished my first ever race back at the Rahway crit. Got shelled hard at the Giro del Cielo road race and crit. Crashed out with one to go the first week I raced at Rockleigh, only to take a flyer off the front with 1.5 laps to go the week after. That feeling, with people screaming at you to keep going, having 5-7 seconds on everyone and thinking “maybe, maybe if I can hang on a little longer…” is unlike anything else in this world. I was even greeted to a round of applause when I crossed the line, dead fucking last, but I gave them a good show! Got my cat 4 upgrade, finally.
Having a baby, or at least my wife is, so things are going to get complicated, but awesome. Was planning on making August and September big racing and training months before I packed it away for the remainder of the season and welcomed the kid into our lives. Crashed hard on Tuesday during our small ring paceline ride, and won’t be back on the bike until mid August. It happens — it sucks, but it happens. I feel bad for the other riders who I managed to take down with me, one with a concussion who got carted away in an ambulance, another hitting the deck and cracking a helmet (though no concussion, thankfully). I suffered some road rash and a trip to the orthopedic confirmed a sprained MCL.
I’ll have fresh legs when I come back, though, and I’ll be full of pent up aggression. Can still squeeze a prospect park race in, and thinking about doing the white plains crit. I’ll race a few more times before the baby comes, and then, well, we’ll see how much anything else matters.
Here, on the road, all over, I’m a slacker.
I love riding. I love racing. I love the thrill of the chase. And yet, I haven’t ridden. I’ve logged about 1200 miles this year, and the year is almost half over. It’s pathetic. I set out with goals, a ton of racing, a ton of riding, and yet I just don’t get out of bed to do it.
March was screwed up because of my broken wrist. And the wrist isn’t better, and maybe that’s part of the problem, that I don’t want to screw it up any further. Maybe I hate taping it in the morning, it’s annoying, it’s one more time consuming step that keeps me from getting out the door. Maybe it’s the weather, and that I don’t want to ride when it’s raining, and it’s been raining this week. Maybe it’s my wife, who’s pregnant with our first child, laying in bed, silently beckoning for me to come back and hold her, my hand on her belly, to bond with the baby.
Maybe I’m just burned out, and I don’t have it in me to get the miles in this year. Maybe I’m fulfilling the prophecy that I’m not going to ride once the baby comes, so I might as well give up now. Maybe it’s that, at the end of the day, racing costs a lot of money and I don’t have the time or money to commit to the travel and pursuit of $10 primes — there’s no cash prizes in Cat 5 races, after all.
Why do we do this? Marze hasn’t raced in a while, but he still loves the ride, and he still gets out and hammers on everyone, lately on a single speed to put us all to shame. I love the thrill of racing, the adrenaline, it’s addictive, but I’ve spent the last two years working toward something that, let’s be real, is never going to be a realistic pursuit. I’ve worked my ass off to hang onto the Cat 5 races that I’ve done, and okay, I can hang now, I couldn’t hang a few years ago. But the amount of time and effort it’s going to take to get to the front of that pack, shit, it’s just not likely to happen, and I can be real about that.
So why aren’t I riding? Why aren’t I going out and having fun and riding around? Have I fallen slave to the power meter? Is it a matter that, right now, I don’t have a training plan and I need to workouts to get myself up? I need the accountibility? Do I want to race? Am I putting my livelihood on the line when I’ve got responsibilities, when I have a baby coming who right now is the only thing on my mind? God, I don’t know.
I want to be fast. I want to have fun. Did it stop being fun, and when? I’m not sure. The alarm goes off every morning at 5am and I get up, every morning, and look out the window, and walk around the house, but I don’t get dressed, I don’t go riding.
And I don’t know why.
I broke my wrist a few weeks ago, as it would be, the week before I would have started racing this season. I spent the cold winter months locked on the trainer, focused, confident in my strength, that it was going to be a good start to the spring. I had started to realize my potential, started realizing my ability to suffer, to dig, to fight.
And it’s pushed off because I stupidly broke my wrist.
But I still feel the roads in my legs. I’ll drive the rides I want to ride and my quads will tighten, my calves will pulse, my heartbeat will speed up. I can feel every short climb I’ve done on the Saturday morning World Championship’s course. I can feel the accelerations of the Rocket Ride. I can feel the roads deep inside my body, inside my soul, attached to them in some spiritual way. Riding, training, racing — it’s like going to church. It’s a set of guidelines that I live by, my body only an engine to push the bicycle as hard and fast as I can. Rapha imprints on their PRO clothing “Forcats De La Route” — Prisoner’s of the Road.
I’m not upset about the wrist because I feel like I’m losing my fitness. I still get on the trainer, albeit begrudgingly, and not as much as I would like, but my fitness is still there. I’m upset about the wrist because I can’t pour myself out over the road, I can’t leave my trail of sweat on the routes I know so well. I can’t be out there in the pack, the hum of the freewheels, the clicks of the derailluers, the squeal of mal-adjusted brake pads. I have to make penance for the other things in my life, I need to cleanse myself, I need to leave it all out on the road.
So I drive these routes, sometimes intentionally, others not, and I feel the roads in my legs.
Throughout the Tour de France,a Colombian rider on the Kelme – Costa Blanca Team, Santiago Botero, has been keeping a diary for the newspaper. Each day the newspaper publishes his diary from the previous day. Unfortunately, the only diary entry I have seen appeared in this past Sunday’s edition. However, it was worth the read.
There I am all alone with my bike. I know of only two riders ahead of me as I near the end of the second climb on what most riders consider the third worst mountain stage in the Tour. I say ‘most riders’ because I do not fear mountains.
After all, our country is nothing but mountains. I train year-round in the mountains. I am the national champion from a country that is nothing but mountains. I trail only my teammate, Fernando Escartin, and a Swiss rider. Pantani, one of my rival climbers, and the Gringo Armstrong are in the Peleton about five minutes behind me. I am climbing on such a steep portion of the mountain that if I were to stop pedaling, I will fall backward. Even for a world class climber, this is a painful and slow process. I am in my upright position pedaling at a steady pace willing myself to finish this climb so I can conserve my energy for the final climb of the day. The Kelme team leader radios to me that the Gringo has left the Peleton by himself and that they can no longer see him.
I recall thinking ‘the Gringo cannot catch me by himself’. A short while later, I hear the gears on another bicycle. Within seconds, the Gringo is next to me – riding in the seated position, smiling at me. He was only next to me for a few seconds and he said nothing – he only smiled and then proceeded up the mountain as if he were pedaling downhill. For the next several minutes, I could only think of one thing – his smile. His smile told me everything. I kept thinking that surely he is in as much agony as me, perhaps he was standing and struggling up the mountain as I was and he only sat down to pass me and discourage me. He has to be playing games with me. Not possible. The truth is that his smile said everything that his lips did not. His smile said to me, ‘I was training while you were sleeping, Santiago’. It also said, ‘I won this tour four months ago, while you were deciding what bike frame to use in the Tour. I trained harder than you did, Santiago. I don’t know if I am better than you, but I have outworked you and right now, you cannot do anything about it. Enjoy your ride, Santiago. See you in Paris.’
Obviously, the Gringo did not state any of this. But his smile did dispel a bad rumor among the riders on the tour. The rumor that surfaced as we began the Prologue several days ago told us that the Gringo had gotten soft. His wife had given birth to his first child and he had won the most difficult race in the world – He had no desire to race, to win. I imagine that his smile turned to laughter once he was far enough not to embarrass me. The Gringo has class, but he heard the rumors – he probably laugh all the way to Paris. He is a great champion and I must train harder. I am not content to be a great climber, I want to be the best.
I learned much from the Gringo in the mountains. I will never forget the helpless feeling I had yesterday. If I ever become an international champion, I will always remember the lesson the Gringo taught me.”
Unfortunately I don’t know who to credit this piece to, or in what newspaper it showed up originally.
Some days you have it, some days you don’t. Saturday started off kind of meh, getting out for about an hour of endurance mileage before the “World Championships” at Cyclesport. Then once the world’s got going, I just couldn’t turn over the cranks. I finally sat up in Norwood and pulled off early.
Today I met up with Scoop and Big B and reluctantly went out for the Rocket Ride. Expecting to get dropped early, I wasn’t really looking forward to it. Big B took a monster pull down Piermont Rd and I managed to sit on his wheel the whole way down. I bridged a couple little gaps that opened up, saved my energy in the middle of the pack, and was still with the group when we got back to Rivervale – certainly not what I was expecting. Not realizing the ride would end kind of shortly, I pulled off with Big B and headed home, with a very solid hour at more or less race pace in my legs.
Racing starts in two weeks. Yesterday I felt miserable about myself – today I’m feeling really good. I think a showing like that today will translate into a solid start of the season at Branch Brook, considering the calibre of rider on the Rocket Ride.