I got home just a little while ago from a 37-mile bike ride that felt like it was at least 50. It was a good ride, just very hilly and therefore slow, and I was convinced at one point that I was lost, and so I spent at least 20-30 minutes in a panic, certain I would have to turn around and retrace my route, which would involve climbing up more hills. I didn’t, thank heavens — I eventually came to a place I recognized and realized I was on the right route all along. But that kind of experience makes a ride feel much longer.
The race season begins next Sunday, and I have no idea how ready I am. I’ve been riding regularly through the winter, but not terribly intensely — which I think is how I should be riding; the intensity can come later. The problem is that the race season here begins ridiculously early. I’m torn between wanting to be ready for the first race so I don’t embarrass myself horribly, and worrying about working so hard I get burnt out. If I ride too intensely now, I won’t leave myself enough room to add intensity later. But if I don’t ride intensely now, I’m running the risk of not having enough strength to finish the first races.
I rode with my cycling club yesterday; they were practicing race tactics to get ready for next week, doing things like working together to catch a sprinter who’s made a break from the pack. I didn’t actually directly participate in these drills, as I’m not strong enough; I just rode at the back of the pack, trying my best to stay with everybody. This could be an indication that I’m not ready to race, but it was a mixed group — some beginners and some more advanced riders (categories 4 and 5) — and so I still don’t know how I match up against riders in my category. There were other guys who looked about as tired as I was.
As usual, I was the only woman in the group; there is at least one other woman in my club who races (and maybe more, depending on whether a couple new people decide to give it a try), but she doesn’t train with the guys much. There will be a women’s race next week, but I’m not going to ride in it — the women’s race is usually very fast because women of all levels ride in it, whereas the men’s race I’ll ride in is limited mostly to newbies, and so a bit slower. That was a lesson I learned very well last year.
So who knows. I’ll give it my best shot next week, but if I don’t do well, that will be okay, because it’s the beginning of the season and I have plenty of time to get myself into shape for races later on.
And the real truth of the matter is that I race because I like riding and I want a challenge. I don’t care much how well I do.