I’m going to start Infinite Jest very, very soon. I’m just not entirely sure when. I’d really like to follow along with the Infinite Summer schedule, and I’m generally very good at sticking to reading schedules, but I haven’t quite gotten around to going up to my study and hauling that book off the TBR shelves. I have been poking around on the Infinite Summer forums by way of preparation, and the various hints I’ve gotten about the book are intriguing. Maybe I’ll start it tomorrow.
I’m almost finished with Vladimir Nabokov’s Lectures on Literature and am about halfway through Mary Brunton’s Discipline. I’m not sure what to think about the Brunton novel. At times I’m enjoying it, and at other times I get annoyed at the main character, a first-person narrator, who does some inexplicable things. The book has enough narrative tension to keep me moving along, though, so I’ll stick with it to see how it all turns out.
And now on to cycling. My race yesterday didn’t go well. It’s a race I hate, though, so the real question is why I keep doing it, not why I didn’t do well. I woke up yesterday morning feeling very draggy, and I never really got over that feeling, even after I’d been out racing for a while. I’m not sure how much of this is physical and how much is psychological; it’s quite possible that I’ve decided this race is so horrible that I psych myself out of doing well.
The race started off okay; we have a neutral start up a long, steep hill, which means that we ride slowly and don’t race until we reach the top. Last year the neutral start wasn’t really neutral — it was too fast to be called that — but this year they kept the start very slow. After that, though, things got worse. We headed down hill, which is an immediate problem, as the roads were wet and the pack kept speeding up and slowing down, forcing me to slam on my brakes as I was flying down the hill. I’m not a particularly fast downhill rider, and the yo-yo-ing the pack was doing made me nervous, so I was slower than usual. That meant that I fell a little behind and had to chase on the flat sections.
And then we hit the hills. I hung on for a while, but soon enough the pack was taking off, and I didn’t have the necessary will, leg muscle, cardiovascular fitness, or all of the above, and I fell behind again. And it was only 8 or so miles into a 50-mile race.
I found some other dropped riders and we rode together for a while, but then I saw Hobgoblin sitting on the side of the rode looking ill. I stopped to see what was wrong, and he didn’t look well at all. He said he’d come down with a migraine right in the middle of the race. He was in a lot of pain and was looking really weak, so we got him a ride in one of the race vans, and I rode back to the start/finish line planning to meet him there.
And that was that. I’m not at all happy Hobgoblin suffered, but I didn’t mind having a good excuse to drop out of what was promising to be a miserable ride. So once again he’s confirmation that hilly road races are not for me. I don’t mind riding up hills, but chasing other, faster riders up hills is truly nightmarish. To make myself feel better about riding in general, I went out on a 40-mile ride this morning, and it was lovely, so all is relatively well. And Hobgoblin seems to be feeling better today.