Don’t often care for coffee, except for sometimes. That doesn’t stop me from contracting a severe case of the pre-race jitters. Despite the lack of caffeine, I am – for better or worse – a hyperventilating wreck before partaking in the first event of the season. For example: toeing the line in my first race ever, my heart was clipping along at 163 beats per minute. I hadn’t even clipped in.
It was no different this year. Anxious to test my fitness, I found a race an easy drive away in South Beloit, Illinois. A simple criterium – clear the cobwebs and cure the shakes. It ended up being anything but. In the briefest terms I will list what went amiss:
Chose questionable fast-food pre-race fuel. Registered last minute. Using a brand new set of HED Jet 9’s forgot valve extenders. While warming up on the trainer, the trainer tire went flat. Windier than anticipated. Pinned number on jersey through front side including sleeve. Re-did it. Clipped in.
The whistle blew.
The chaotic (self inflicted) mess before the whistle no longer mattered. The jitters disappeared faster than the air from my trainer tire. We were racing, and it was pretty awesome. I’m not going to recap it for you (because I made some silly tactical mistakes followed by flatting with no remaining free laps). In the end, I finished Dead For Last (I think that’s the meaning of DFL, right guys?), but I was not rattled. I came to race and did.
Racing is the most accurate test of form you can have. No one will push you harder than your lycra-clad peers. Not every race is an “A” priority event, so don’t be afraid to try new tactics out, attack and test yourself. Despite the lackluster result, I was able to gauge my form (it was pretty good, just saying) and return to that racing mindset. If your first race turns out similar to mine, please do two things immediately: 1. Laugh and B. Remember: it is a long season. It can only get better and it probably will. Try and learn from every race and take that with you to the next one.
And maybe spend a little more time packing your race-day bags next time.