Some days I have great bike mojo, and then other days it seems like I just can't hit my stride no matter how hard I try. Yesterday was one of the latter days for me, unfortunately. My SO was going out to Watkins Glen to ride in his very first official bike race, and since it was supposed to be a pretty nice day for biking and I've never been to the race track I thought I would go along. I knew it was going to be a longish ride and have some fairly substantial climbs as well, but somehow I really underestimated my abilities here (or was just having a bad biking day), because it ended up being a very long day!
We took the bus partway up the hill to save us a bunch of climbing, leaving about 20 miles to go to the race track. Almost immediately after getting off the bus we had short but nasty steep stretch, and with me feeling still a little stiff and somewhat queasy from the bus, this didn't go well at all.
That little red blip at the beginning there? Yeah. That almost made me turn around and go home right there! I stuck with it, and the rest of the ride into Watkins Glen was pretty nice and mostly gently downhill. To get to the race track we had to climb again, and quite a bit. By this point we were quite late, so the SO left me at the bottom while I slowly spun my way up in granny gear. This wasn't fast, but it wasn't miserable either and I did make it up just before the SO was set to launch.
This was the first time I'd been to a bike race (unless you count the highly informal Cascadilla hill climb), and it was fun to watch the goings on of the race bike set. My bike looked highly out of place there, and I got one slightly snarky comment about my "classic" Brooks saddle. The SO's race kit came with all kinds of clinical looking goos and potions. I tried a package of the Hammer Heed drink in lemon lime (I figured I could use some electrolytes after sweating my way up the hill), and it was nasty. Sorry, Hammer.
Watching the SO race was quite fun, and I'm a bit sorry that I didn't get to take a spin around the race car track. He was all by himself after the first lap, and for a minute I thought he was in the lead! It's a bit hard to tell where everyone is on the race track since there was another group that started a minute ahead of his class. Little did I know that getting separated from the group is almost a sure sign that you've fallen behind, not pulled ahead, at least in the first round. By the time he'd finished he was pretty convinced that he was last, although it turned out to be not quite that bad.
We had a long downhill and then another climb to get out of Watkins Glen. I made it through that alright, but by the time we reached the top my legs were really done. With not too much power left in my legs I started really feeling the pressure on my butt, and all along that long flat yellow stretch in the elevation map above I was just waiting, waiting for the downhill to come and save me. We made it back to Ithaca in the end, but really not a moment too soon for me!
So, I'm not sure what happened here. This was a long ride (probably the second longest ride I've been on) and a lot of climbing, but it felt much harder than it needed to. I had to have the SO rub some tiger balm on my poor legs last night, and I can't even look at a bike seat today. I'm guessing there will be a lot of sitting gingerly and not a lot of biking for me in the next few days!