Sunday, 15 January 2012

Aca Joe Pro Classic Series Wk1

We learn things about ourselves on a regular basis. Some days we learn more than others, and when you have an objective which causes you to stretch your abilities and push your boundaries, the magnitude of such personal learning or growth is substantially greater. This past week, the first week of the Aca Joe Pro Classic Series, my first week as a Veteran Racing Cyclist (equivalent to a Cat 3 cyclist), has been such a time for me. A week where my passion for cycling, and my cycling goals to achieve, has gifted me, by highlighting what till now has been obscure.

Since I started cycle racing 2 years ago, I have been admiring the guys that move to the front starting chutes at races, the Elites, the Racing Age Groupers, the League Racers, their bicycles marked with its own registration number. This week my bike got its own little number plate, and this accomplishment brought with it some internal demons in the form of anxiety, and its associated negative energy.

My questioning of this psychological state, its affect on my cycling performance, its existence at a time when I should be overjoyed, prompted the discovery of associated literature, and the realization that I allot too much power to what I think others are thinking of me, fear of not being accepted by others, that I am not worthy or good enough to be amongst them. And the negative self talk that this eschews.
Reward to self for 'discovery'
There are tools that I have selected from those readings as well as recommendations from Michael that I will be utilising going forward. This is also the arena of sports psychologists, and mental fitness consultants.

As the days progressed my mind set improved, and by Sunday, race morning, I was feeling very different from earlier the week. A lot more confident, and armed with tools to deal with negative self talk if necessary, a lot more relaxed and comfortable with where I am at.

Did it provide me with a blistering performance in today’s race? No, it did not (this is real life not a hollywood blockbuster), but the results from my inner discovery will manifest itself in many different ways within me, improving me, and will influence my riding performance in the weeks, months, and years ahead.

My short report on the first race of the Aca Joe Pro Classic Series, PPA Klein Joostenberg, 105 km.
I was up at the crack of dawn, well rested, and in high spirit. By 4.45 I was in the car and headed to the N1 and Klein Joostenberg. Arrived at 5.25, an hour before my race start time. It was great to see Spat in the parking lot, and briefly touch base, as he too was very excited to be in his first League race. After unpacking the bike, drinks, gels, etc. we headed together to the race sign on.

There was a hive of excitement at the Gazebo, and it was great to take it all in and to be part of it all. It was good to greet and chat with friends, Dale and Tiny K, and mix with other familiar faces noted from previous races.

I had planned to allow some time for a warm up, so headed out for a 20 min warmup after signing on. As per last week, I put in 2-3 sprints.

I got into my starting chute with about 10 minutes to spare, and the vibe in the starting chute was great. Many people chatting with friends, others meeting and greeting, and some (like me) quietly composing themselves for the race ahead.

From the count down the start was fast. There are some very strong guys in the Vet group and they set quite a pace. As we came into Stellenbosch the pace mellowed out in anticipation of the climb up Helshoogte that lay ahead. At the base of the climb the pace quickened and the effort increased substantially. I had moved to the front third of the group before the climb and was at this point feeling comfortable. Half way up the climb the leaders of the vet group opened up quite a gap and just kept on going. I settled into a smaller bunch positioned in the middle of the original starting bunch. We climbed well and steadily tackled the ascent. As we crested the top I could no longer hold on and felt myself isolated on the descent, and the next few kilometers.

It was not long before another bunch was formed from remnants of the vet group. I sat with them for quite some distance, till 1h45 into the race. At this point the pain in my legs from the rolling hills and heat (30deg C) got the better of me. I got dropped from that bunch, they went on to finish in 3h03.

I finished in 3h17. Not a good race time. Position 58 out of 69. I have a lot of hard training required in the weeks and months ahead, and I am confident that the rapid pace with which I have been improving will continue.

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