I'm not sure what day it is anymore, I know it's Wednesday because that's what my phone tells me.
Last night was a crit in Cedarburg, the closest race so far to my host house. Good 4 corner course with a slight rise between corners 1 and 2, with a small sharp kick right before the corner, then long false flat decent into corner 3, more downhill into corner 4, and a long false flat uphill finish.
I was aggressive as I could be the first 20 minutes. I must have covered 3 attacks and instigated 2 in the course of 5 laps. I was really hoping I could get into the break for once, but it wasn't to be. The break did go while I was being active at the front, but I missed it and got shut down trying to go across. I decided then to rest for a minute and see if I could try again later, but as soon as I began to sit up, my legs got heavier and heavier. It seems I dug myself a pretty deep hole, and I was hurting just trying to sit in.
I realized halfway through last night's race that I was telling myself I was hurting a lot more than I really was, and I was losing the mental battle a lot worse than I was losing the physical race. I decided I'd keep resting, but I wasn't out of it for the finish. I felt better and better, and made a couple split second, smart moves, that got me to the front with 10 laps to go. I guess I was pretty lucky to do that as things got awfully dicey and aggressive with about 8 or 9 laps to go, and I was right up in the thick of it. I managed to stay toward the front even with all the swarming and shifts that were happening at the front end of the race. With 2 laps to go things really heated up, elbows getting thrown all over, people touching wheels and chopping each other in almost every corner.
Coming into the last corner I saw more aggressive riding than I think I've ever witnessed first hand, and as scared as I was I just kept focused on the wheel in front of me, and trying to hold my own line the best I could. I got around a couple people in the sprint, but also had a person or two come around me. With a small break up the road, and the big sprint just in front of me I finished up in 20th place. Good enough to get in the money for once.
It's funny to feel so excited about a 20th place, but I think I'm more excited that for once I held my own and overcame my own negativity that's been holding me back in these longer races. I'm really motivated now for the 4 more nights of racing out here, and especially for some local races when I get home. Bannock Street Criterium is my new "home" race, and I guess Rocky Mounts always throws an awesome barbeque party for the Niwot Criterium so hopefully I can pull off some good results for these end of the season races. After that it looks like a pair of crits up in the mountains, (Dillion and Copper Mountain I believe) and then it's time for cyclocross. Maybe it's just the 5 cups of coffee I've had today, or the extra energy from knowing I'm not racing tonight, but I feel like I'm catching a second or even third wind for the end of the season, I sure hope it continues to blow through cross nats.
Thanks for checking in, I need to go find a place to publish this from, it seems like my hour has expired at this cafe.
Okay, back to my Panera Bread hotspot. On one last note, everybody has opinions about all the recent doping busts at the tour. Guilty or not, (they probably are) the only thing I know is that for me, I'd rather be finishing 20th place in a little known race in WI and doing it clean, rather than standing atop a podium knowing that I broke every rule to get there, and I couldn't have done what I did without artificial help. I suppose you get the mentality that everyone is doing it, so you have to do it to beat them, but really you aren't beating anyone, you're just joining them in their tainted race.