The thing is, I want to be reading it right now so I'm in a bit of a hurry. But I do want to talk about something real quick like.
For a long time now, I've had a real quandary on my hands. I love riding and getting in shape and being fast. I don't necessarily want to race, but if you're going to ride with the people I ride with; If you're going to be on a club that is sponsored and giving you fantastic discounts, then you kind of need to race.
Yeah, I do cross. But what I do in cross couldn't really be called "racing." It is really really fun, but I'm not too good at it. At least I haven't been yet.
Also, I prefer road racing. You get to stay on the bike (if you're lucky).
This year, I've gotten more than strong enough to generally hang and compete with the typical cat 4 field. I can stay with (and sometimes drop) several of the lower echelon cat 3 guys, depending on the terrain. Ironically, I climb fairly well for a big huge fella.
But yeah - back to the quandary. So when I started getting stronger and riding with some of the more talented riders, The inevitable question came ...
"When are you going to race?"
"You should race."
"Why don't you race?"
"Race Forrest, Race."
I always tried to come up with some excuse. Sometimes, I even told the truth about it. I'm terrified.
I'm scared I'll be humiliated. I'm scared I'll find out I suck. I have no technical skill.
People would always say "It's fun." I had no idea how to even process that statement. It's not fun. It's suffering. It's the most self-inflicted pain you'll ever have. It's scary. Taking sharp corners sometimes at close to 30 MPH with people swarming around you. Gulp.
I didn't understand why people do it. Why they travel to do it. What's wrong with just riding?
I get it now.
You can get the fitness you need to race well. You have to train for it, but if you learn how to train, it will come.
But if you only train in a straight line, you'll be shit at racing.
One time before the beginning of a cross race, EOB gave me sage advice. He was quoting Booger from "Better off Dead". The funny thing is, Booger was in "Revenge of the Nerds" where he was known as Booger. I don't know what his character's name was in "Better off Dead" but it doesn't matter because he'll always be Booger to everybody.
Anyway, EOB said to me before my cross race "Go that way. Really fast. If something gets in your way. Turn."
The Wednesday Night Worlds is a fast paced road ride. It is not a crit. However, there are actually a couple of places on the way back where fast turns are required. Until very recently, I've always felt anxious at that part of the ride. Am I going to eff it up and potentially take someone out? Can we take the corner at this speed?
Yeah - last night, I pedaled through those corners because I knew I could.
For the last two or three months, I've decided to dedicate my recovery days to cornering practice. It works out to about 30 minutes once or twice a week.
Also, I've done se7en crits this year (including 3 training crits). Not only am I no longer afraid to take a corner; now I actually get a thrill out of it. Sometimes it's a little scary, but there are few things more satisfying than a smoothly executed turn.
One thing I've learned very recently that I never knew was even possible is that you can fairly easily change your line in a turn. I practice this a lot on the recovery nights. I'll be taking a sharp turn at speed and imagine something got in my way. I will change my course by either pushing the handle bar down harder or letting up on it a bit. Last Tuesday, I was able to do this several times during the race to get right into the spot I wanted to be in or avoid getting too close to another rider.
Basically, yeah that's all I wanted to say. I can turn my bike now. Already. After about 45 years of riding.
I'm going to go read. It really is a good book.