Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Kansas State Wildcat Gran Prix

I headed North from my state for a race for the first time ever. The team went to my grandma’s house on Friday night, which was pretty fun. A whole bunch of us stayed in the basement there. It was kind of strange. I have spent a couple weeks total in that basement at different points, and this was the first time that we have had a lot of people. Everyone joked around for a while. It got a bit late, and I had to steer them in the direction of sleeping a bit. We got there soon enough. When I woke up my stomach felt terrible. I couldn’t eat a thing that morning, which was bad news. I hate when my body is uncooperative. I had a half a glass of milk, and I felt like throwing up.

I got to the race and the conditions were great. It was 75 and sunny, albeit rather windy. We went down the initial stretch going about 30 average. If that tells you anything about how windy it was, then you should know that once that section was over it was going to be tough going. We hit the first turn, and I was having a tough time staying with the pack. I slowly dropped off, and I got stuck out in the wind with only a couple of riders. I wasn’t concerned about catching the group, so I had a few pleasant conversations with people. It was nice talking to riders from different states. I talked with a guy from KU who lives in Colorado as well. He and I really got along, which was great. I talked with a guy from Iowa, and asked him if he knew anyone on his powerlifting team. He didn’t, but it was worth a shot.

The hills were tougher than I thought they would be. After Arkansas I was glad that there wasn’t any of that 22% madness, but it was still enough to make me hurt. The road race finish was uphill into the wind. I gave it the beans at the end, and hit the biggest vomit risk for the day in the following minutes. My parents and I talked for a bit(as the race was even closer to them this time) and then they left as we decided what we wanted to do for dinner. We chose Olive Garden, which is normally avoided by the team, and as we got there I saw they had a Smashburger and a Noodles & Company right behind the Olive Garden. I have never been so disappointed in our team’s decisions. If we go back to K-State next year for a race I am forcing everyone to go to Noodles. They don’t have them in OK or TX, so our guys never end up eating there. Most haven’t even heard of it. They still have no idea what they missed. Next time though….

We need the more obscure sports from each university to have a training center. I would appreciate a club sports only budget, so big schools like OU don’t have to scrounge for equipment. To be honest the funding for these sorts of sports shouldn’t be in the hands of individual students. If a student has equipment they would like to use, then great, but it would be cool if they didn’t have to rely on themselves. The problem is some sports have a huge budget that gets blown on either dumb stuff or produces mediocre results. I am grateful that our football program makes money and pays for our graduate students, but out of a 43 million dollar budget, you’d think they could spare a few thousand so we don’t have to have riders sleep on the floor.

I don’t want to get into a huge diatribe about that though. On to the crit!

Sunday morning we were all really tired. The breakfast at the hotel was mediocre. It paled in comparison to the breakfast my grandma had made the day before. We rushed to get all of our stuff outside of the hotel, and headed down to campus. There was a big hill in the middle of the crit. I have found a big weakness of mine, and I know what I am going to do over the summer. Lots of hills at a paced effort twice a week should be enough for me to avoid getting dropped on scenarios like this. I hate this sort of course because I end up catching the people on the downhill and corners. We had a neutral lap, and everything was cool. Then we were off. Two KU riders attacked at the very beginning, and I made the mistake of thinking the peloton wouldn’t immediately gobble them back up with or without my help. So I went off the front into the wind to chase them down. Then we turned onto the hill, and I fell back. I stayed with everyone for the first half of the next lap, then I spent much of the race latching on to various wheels of other dropped off riders. I eventually found myself toward the end of the race just surviving. I saw that I was on the last lap with a couple of riders in my vicinity. I put all of the rest of my efforts into that lap. The great thing about crit courses is you know just how much effort a lap is going to take because you have done it so many times. This was a 30 minute + 3 lap crit, so it took about 39 minutes. This is 10 minutes longer than the crits I am used to, but to be honest I didn’t feel any kind of difference. I was still dropped because of a hill. I am beating myself up about it a lot, but I want to change it. If I don’t talk about it I won’t do anything about it, and that is a problem. As I hit the hill I put myself into a steady gear and pedaled at a pretty intense pace. After I hit the crest I shifted into my big chainring, put it into a tough gear, stood up, and put my weight into the pedals. I gained speed, and I set myself up for a sprint. Even though I was well off the back I like being “that guy” that sprints for the line. Even though I was exhausted I still pulled out a 32 mph sprint. Not my greatest, but that hill took most of what I had out of me. At least I didn’t get last in either race.

There was a crash each day that had one of my teammates in it. The first day he screwed up his wheels, and the second day he fractured his wrist. He’s out for the rest of the race season. Only two weeks left in collegiate for us, so that means he is definitely out for them. He will possibly do a couple other races in the summer. I’m gonna go crazy on the bike these next two weeks. I’ll give myself a little siesta leading up to finals, and then it’s on to some triathlon and half marathon training. It has been a really long time since I have been in the pool, and I am looking forward to eliminating my mediocrity at swimming. 

On a more team related note, we had a first place finish in the Men's D road race, the Men's C road race, and the Men's C crit. We will probably have multiple riders podium for the season, and our team is on track to handily get third in the conference. We may even chase down some of the points that the second place school has on us. Only two more weekends to go, and I am really impressed with how the team has done. I look forward to the next race and conference championships with a great fervor now. 

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