What a way to end a season! The 2009 training and racing year has been a learning experience. Testing out different training and racing strategies, technique, and abilities. After what felt like a roller coaster of performances, I ended it on a high note. My goal for the last race of 2009 was to crack onto the World Cup podium for the first time.
It’s rare that a professional athlete in any sport can pull off victory in the last competition of the season on the big stage. No this wasn’t World Championships, but a World Cup win is solid.
The more I mature as an athlete, the more I find myself repeating races I’ve been to before. For most of my career, I’ve been racing on a race course in a new city or country I haven’t been to before. When I come back to that city the following year I know where to go for good restaurants, safe places to ride, if I should bring a trainer or not, and whether last year’s hotel was worth residing in again. Since I love racing in Mexico because of the food, culture, and hospitality I never really had a problem any of the five times I’ve come to visit.
If you’ve never been to Central America or South Mexico, it’s hot…all year round. Planning for the race is a given. No wetsuit and wearing lots of extra clothes while training. If you aren’t already on your limit, shedding a couple pounds is less weight you have to carry out on the course when your body feels like a dead carcass in those closing miles. Cutting my weight down a tad was part of the plan.
The bike course has an insanely steep hill. Hills are fun and all but when it’s 100F degrees with no shade, you tend to have a different approach.
I had this theory after 2008’s World Cup that a breakaway was possible. Hard, but possible. A solo attempt early on would be suicidal. I love racing the bike, so I began to get excited right from the water exit. I even took the first bike prime on lap 2. Pushing the pace a little to shake a few of the weaker riders was part of my plan. Attacking up the hill on lap 3 after I sprinted for a prime was not. Looking back a month later, I attacked. At the time, I just “tightened the screw” a bit more.
In cycling, a rider only has two bullets in his pistol, not six. One for an attack or to bridge to a breakaway, the other is for the sprint at the end to win.
I’m not even half way through the bike and I already use up a bullet. In triathlon, you can’t use the other on the bike because of the run. There’s only one bullet. One shot. If you have a bad swim, and have to bridge on the bike to the main field you’re already down to one. Going all out until you’re about to puke then settling back to a sustainable race pace is tough because of the run. Unlike the bike, there’s no coasting on the run. When it’s extra hot, it’s easy to miss fire. You can have an empty chamber by the time to have a reality check and see you’ve got at least thirty minutes left of racing.
So I think I miss fired. That’s ok, because I was planning on making a move anyways. Just not early in the game on a hot, hot day. I used a bullet…On accident… So I had to go with it. I didn’t look back and just rode steady. By the time my next closet competitor, Ruedi Wild, made an attempt to bridge up I had too much of an advantage with little real estate left to sit up and wait for some help.
The run was just gravy. That’s my big focus, so it came the easiest. I’m a swimmer that thinks he’s a cyclist, but is absolutely obsessed with and really wants to feel and move like a runner. (Make sense? No? Me neither… That’s triathlon.)
Thanks for reading.