This road racing thing is a curious beast. Though first and foremost my main lover is the mountain bike, I am increasingly attracted to the lure of the road. Please don’t tell my friends. I’m not entirely sure that i’m even happy admitting it. A new challenge, a different beast, using your head in an entirely different way despite the legs still turning in circles.
I have no illusions of grandeur on the road, I have had enough brushes with high performance programs to know that what I want from racing is for myself and not the accolades and small time glory of medals and kudos. Bulk watts and fucking shit up is the motive. Without a power metre I get to choose how many watts I put out “one million!”, “one million plus two!”. Plus, wine and cheese AMIRIGHT?
Having qualified for Worlds a month or so ago now, it’s kind of been a little of ‘what now?’. The investment of time and energy getting to qualifying races is hard enough, it was difficult to grasp the prospect of qualifying and travelling overseas to a major competition at all. But I have, and I am.
There is bulk commitment in spending exorbitant amounts of money on going overseas for one race, but commitment and discipline is not something I lack. Unless we’re talking about wine or silence, in which case I am a total delinquent. Being able to “just get on with it” has been perhaps one of the best skills I have acquired over the course of my now medium-length life (I found a grey eyebrow hair the other day. That was concerning).
Get on with it; make it happen. Book the flights. What next? Training, yes. The 0400 starts are a brutal neccessity, but how many others sacrifice a warm bed for the taste of blood in your mouth? The regurgitation of an espresso at 0545? Get out of bed because others won’t. There’s definitely a time to be kind to yourself, but that’s not during VO2 efforts or max sprints. Watts, squeeze them out. Every last one.
The learning curve of this road thing (and my apparent lack of smarts. Like who’s up the road? Are they fast? What is going on? What do I do now?) has just been another opportunity to step up in uncomfortable situations, and really mountain-biking is all about who can be the most uncomfortable for the longest. What mountain biking isn’t about is taking the most risks. Of course, every technical feature has an element of risk, but a full blown gamble is a rare thing in mountain biking; which is essentially the dirtiest, suffering-est, offroad, paced time-trail there is.
At the risk of my writing becoming overly prosaic and repetitive; risk and reward are often good bedfellows. The road has shown me that taking a gamble can be a good thing, if the fitness can follow through then the risk is that you end up back in the bunch, hopefully not off the back.
I’m heading to France, I am taking a risk. What’s the worst that can happen? I end up 67th in the world, shred some rad singletrack, drink a fuckload of wine and eat cheese to celebrate. And the good stuff? Top 30? Better? Who knows. Either way it sounds pretty good to me.