Monday, March 8, 2010

Racing season went off with a bang this weekend as we all (some) headed down to the dirty Jerz for a weekend of Rutgers racing. I didn't go into the weekend with very high expectations. You see, I spent the better part of the last six months here:

Despite the fact that this one little race called the Tour de France ends roughly 2 km from this very spot annually, Paris is not very conducive to riding a bike. Especially when you live with a host family that isn't excited about your dirty bike being brought into their house. So I went to Paris sans velo. I felt naked.

To make matters worse, they have these crappy little bikes called Velib's, which are stationed all around the city and cost less than 1Euro per day to use.

Which is great if you are a high-heeled Parisian woman who just needs to ride a mile or so to get to your high brow job at the post office (everyone in Paris works at the post office). It's not great if you are a newb to the city who knows what it feels like to ride a Trek Madone. Even if I could bear to get on a $50 plastic bike-like object, it wouldn't actually do me any good transportation-wise. When cities are built over the course of several thousand years, they tend to look like this:

When you don't know the language, nor the traffic patterns, nor the direction you are going, it's best to stay on the sidewalk. So while the ECCC was busily combining my racing category with some really hardcore women who were undoubtedly training twice as hard as I would if I were home, I was spending 4 months walking around the city dreaming about poor Roxanne all cooped up in some random apartment in Inwood (thanks to these guys).

The point is that I showed up to Rutgers this weekend on two months of training (ish) after four months of nothing but macarons and then was thrown to the dogs (bitches; and by that I mean the A women in the most respectful way "bitches" can be construed). I felt like it was my very first race all over again. In the sense that I had no idea what was going to happen and in the sense that staying in the pack was a vom affair. Sure enough, I got dropped. Hard. I spent the better part of the weekend chasing the main pack. On Staurday there wasn't a chance. On Sunday, however, four of us were just dangling past the edge of the field. I might have had the energy to bridge the gap had I not spent a good deal of it shouting at our disorganized group to get in a straight line and PULL. Dear B women: please learn how to ride in a paceline before Grant's Tomb. I don't want to waste my breath.

It's one thing to wheelsuck or block when you are in the pack or in a break. Those are tactical concerns. It doesn't mean I'm not going to yell at you, but at the end of the day I at least understand it from a logical perspective. But when there are four women dropped off the edge of the pack, there are less than 10 miles to go, and you are just hanging out on the side of the other three, what's going on in your mind? "Hmm...let me just hang out here in the wind, doing as much work as the person on the front pulling but not actually helping the group get where they want to go." I feel like this girl got told that she should block for her teammate during the race (who ended up winning I think), but no one bothered to tell her that once she was dropped that rule was void.

As much as the racing this weekend really sucked on the scoreboards, there's really nothing like the first race of the season to get you pumped up. It's interval time. It's time to get my legs moving and train the Parisian laziness out of my muscles. 

And, I can bittersweetly report that after a 6 month effort to reduce skin discoloration on odd parts, the kit tan is back after one 60 minute circuit race in short sleeves. I think I have the unique blend of Native American and Italian blood in my veins to thank for that physiological phenomenon.

Next week: Grant's Tomb. It looms large, like the heaping mass of stone that it is. 

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