June 19, beginning of the hill climb racing season. Lake Placid, NY, warming up for the Whiteface climb which is the first event of the BUMPS Championship. Feeling great, I have a time goal in mind validated by CTS coaches Tim Rucker and Jim Lehman. Lining up at the start. The battery in my power meter goes dead. The rest is history. I am frustrated and angry at myself for not being better prepared for this race. I have been training for it for months. I can’t execute my race game plan very well without my power meter. Bad result. What do I do? I put myself through three weeks of punishing training cultimating in an epic 100 miles ride with 11,000 feet of climbing on July 2. My fellow riders were all in their 20s. I felt great from the start and I convinced them to get a King of the Mountain competition going as soon as we got rolling.
I let the young guys fight it out among themselves on the first couple of climbs. I got into the action on the third climb battling against two riders and against one rider on the fourt climb. I won both of those climbs. I then raced up climb five and raced all the way to and up climb six. My memory of the ride: I felt strong. It was a challenging but rewarding ride. I would do it again tomorrow. Looking at my power file of this ride today I can truly say that I gave it a 105% effort on the all of the climbs I had decided to battle on – and I wished I would have pushed even more.
On a shorter version of this same ride yesterday I couldn’t find the mental strength to battle. All my efforts were weak efforts. When I compare yesterday’s power file with the July power file it is clear that I just didn’t have the power – nor the legs – yesterday. Not only I didn’t have the power but every effort felt way more difficult than in July. I dreaded the thought of having to battle against my fellow riders on every climb. Why is it that objectively speaking I didn’t exert myself yesterday as much as I did in July but all the climbs felt way tougher?
I went into the July ride with the intention of winning at all cost and I was convinced that no effort would be too hard. I was ending three weeks of hard training and my mind and body were ready for action. I even got really excited about the possibility of racing up the second to last climb and all the way to and up the last one – which I did with great success. It was a 55 minutes all out effort after 5:30 hrs of hard riding. Yesterday I went into the ride after having spent a week tapering before my first half marathon last Sunday and then a week recovering from it. My body and mind got used to all that lack of pain and that mindset won the day. And that is a big reason why I wasn’t the strongest. I would not do that ride ever again.
Watching Robert Gesink from Rabobank win the Grand Prix Cycliste de Montreal this afternoon and seeing how he looked on the last lap (PAIN!!!) got me refocused. That is why I will once again put myself through a few weeks of hard training: pain is temporary, losing stays with you forever. And the body and the mind will quickly get re-addicted to pain. I am looking forward to it.