Monday, March 31, 2008

I'm a tweener?!

Wow, twofer Monday! I figured it would be best to create this as a separate post since it really should be it's own topic. I had a recurring conversation and thought this weekend on the rides. After just getting into cycling last year, I've found myself smack dab in the middle of no-man's land. I'm a tweener. No, not that type of tweener, I don't crave a new cell phone, bedazzler, and a driver's license, I just don't quite fit with the local riding groups in town.

I started out as a typical recreational rider last year, got hooked, rode a metric shitload (over 3000 miles from May to December), and got faster. By the end of the summer I found most of the group rides I'd struggled to keep up with were now lagging behind me as I kept pushing myself to go farther and faster. Granted, I have absolutely no misconceptions that I'm anywhere near the speed of a typical cat 5 racer, but I'm not a huge fan of hurry up and wait either. So, the winter comes and I find myself invited along for some mountain biking rides with a group of racers. I'm enjoying pushing myself to redline and still falling way off the back, but it's fun. I have a new challenge. Now I'm out there tackling dirty centuries, getting stronger and having even more fun even in the midst of the hurt.

Now it's spring and I've got some base miles in, my fitness is fair to middlin' (about the same as mid-late summer last year), and I'm contemplating showing up to a few more of the "racer" type group rides. A simple Wednesday night recovery ride left me feeling pretty worked so I'm wondering what my actual abilities are. Was the ride harder than a recovery ride? Am I really that slow? How do I get faster? Do I want to race? How afraid am I of crashing?

All this leads me to realize, I'm right in the middle. I'm too competitive to enjoy riding below my threshold to keep with a slower group and I'm not sure I'm competitive enough to want to risk crashing in a race group not to mention spending more time working on getting stronger as well. I talked it over with a few different people on the rides this weekend. Racing sounds like a lot of fun and I'm most likely strong enough to not make a complete fool of myself in the Cat 5 class, but the few crashes I've had on the MTB this winter have left me with a pretty big aversion to going down hard on the road. So, what's a tweener to do????

As of right now, I'm looking more towards distance racing. The groups are much smaller, most packs stay pretty spread out, and it becomes more of a mental fortitude game along with the fitness aspect. I signed up for the Almanzo 100 since it sounded like a lot of fun. I'm looking to do a double century ride/race and I'm going to try to hang with anyone I can at the TNWC. I have no doubt that I'll find myself alone in the back at most, if not all, of these events, but it gives me something to shoot for. Any other tweeners out there? Chime in.


Iowagriz said...

Although I didn't do many road races in Iowa, I'm going back to the dirt. As a tweener myself, on the dirt you are always racing two other people. The 1 in front that you are trying to catch, and the 1 in back that you are trying to hold off. On the dirt, there always seems to be 1 in front and 1 behind. It makes it more fun.

Buckshot77 said...

Tom, I'm definitely going to check out some dirt racing this year. I'm hoping to hit the 7 Oaks MTB Crit next month since it promises to be flat and flowy singletrack. Maybe when I get done, I can take a loop of the rest of the course to find out just how much climbing there is.