Starting my comeback…

What do you think of the new look? I designed it myself – okay, not really, it’s just Lefty Minima, but I did tweak the wrapper and post width settings to be a little wider – just so much wasted space in those narrow canned blogger templates. Does this make me an official geek whiz now?

April didn’t really work out according to plan. It started off good with a solid performance at the GO! St. Louis half marathon, after which I had intended to spend the rest of April racing myself back into good cycling form. Instead, right after the first Wed Night Time Trial, I got sick. I held out hope that it wouldn’t be too bad and I could still open my season that weekend with the Tour of Hermann, but Sat morning I awoke and knew it would just be suicidal to try to race. Sunday and Monday were even worse, with deep chest congestion and a dry, hacking cough. It was pretty bad, and a slow recovery during the following week even put the next weekend’s Tour of St. Louis in jeopardy. Late in the week (after a full 7 days off) I felt good enough to get in an hour or so on the bike. It was rough – my legs were noodly, and I had some persistent deep congestion that made it hard to breathe. I decided to go ahead and do just the Saturday Time Trial but skip the crits and hopefully get in some quality training on Sunday.

The Tour of St. Louis Time Trial, held at Columbia Bottom Conservation Area in north St. Louis Co., was a flat, fast 9-mile course on ultra smooth pavement with gentle, sweeping turns, a high-speed turnaround, and (almost) no cars. I wasn’t expecting to do anything special, given my lackluster performance at the first Wed Night Time Trial and recent sickness, but any chance to do a TT is good for training. Besides, you never know who will show – maybe I could place. I got a late start time with the P12s so I was kinda scared maybe I would get caught. With 1-minute start intervals and such a short course that would be mortifying! In all the TTs I’ve ever done, I’ve only been passed by one person – Joe Hill, who started 3-min behind me at the 2004 Missouri State Time Trial and turned in a 52-flat to capture the P12 title! That one I could handle, otherwise I really wanted to keep my “no-pass” streak alive. Fortunately, I did alright – better than I expected – and finished in 20:50, which was good enough for 3rd place in the Masters 50+. I can’t say I felt very good, and the persistent congestion wasn’t helping, but I was pleased with the effort – helped no doubt by the sight of my 1-min man during the last few miles (although I didn’t catch him).

Sunday I skipped the crit and looked forward to some long riding. I started off with a 7-mile run and felt okay, then hopped on the bike. Of course, it was FRICKIN’ COLD! It’s frickin’ late April, and I still haven’t gotten to wear a summer kit on the bike! I didn’t feel that great and so pedaled easy. I just couldn’t get settled in, and my congestion didn’t seem to be any better. Only 10 miles into the ride I was hungry, so I ate a bar. I got hungry again after another 10 miles but forced myself to wait (perhaps stupidly) until the 25-mile mark to eat my 2nd bar and top off my sport drink. I stopped at this gas station that I stop at a lot (Mobil, Geyer and Manchester), bought the drink, and asked if they had any water. The lady said there was no water fountain, so I said, “You got a sink?” Well, she hmpfd and shrugged while sticking her hand out for me to give her my water bottle, like she was so inconvenienced! Customer service, don’t you just love it? I wanted to tell her there was another convenience store just down the street that I’ll stop at from now on so she won’t have to be so inconvenienced by me anymore, but I held my tongue. The second bar and energy drink should have perked me right up, but it didn’t so after another hour of riding I figured I better just head home. Five miles from home I felt it – the bonk! I bonked on forty miles of riding! Those last five miles were pretty horrible, as it had also started to rain, and I was pretty much useless for the rest of the day. I’m still baffled – perhaps I just tried to do too much too soon, or maybe I didn’t refuel quickly enough after the previous evening’s time trial, or (probably) I’m just an old codger and can’t do this stuff anymore.

Monday I was still not very recovered – I wanted to do the St. Charles group ride but decided not to try any trickery, just spin the legs, get a good workout, and see if I felt better. I did (though still congested), but the whole experience was marred by some incredibly dangerous, boneheaded riding by someone who really should know better. It wasn’t just my opinion, but I was the only person who tried to say something, and the reaction wasn’t good. Person ‘X’ has a reputation as a hothead but has always treated me square – until now. At least we got rid of ‘X’ for the finale, although I didn’t contest it.

Tuesday I did a short 4-mile run and felt horrible! Tired, congested – not much else to say.

Wednesday was my return to the Wed Night Time Trial. Conditions were windy (again!), but it was more of a straight headwind out and tailwind back rather than the slashing crosswinds of the first week. I did much better, and for the first time since getting sick it seemed like I was breathing okay. I caught my minute man and took close to 2-min off my Week 1 time to get myself back into the top 10. More importantly, I felt really good, and though I still have work to do at least now it looks like things are progressing. I’m gonna skip the Washington race this weekend – I just really have no business doing crits right now – so it looks like State Road Race will be my first real race of the season. (Caveat – who also agrees that State RR is just too early? Mid-May, c’mon! You’ve still got too big a spread in fitness levels at that time of year. I think a state RR should be no earlier than June, and preferably later – let all those who think they’ve got a shot spend the summer boning up for it, and then let ’em duke it out on a long course with variable terrain – not favoring any particular type of rider – in difficult (i.e., hot) conditions. It shouldn’t just be a win, it should be a survival against tough competition in tough conditions. End of rant).

Today was a much needed and deserved day of rest. The week of training didn’t start out good, but it ended well. And as we all know, it’s what you’ve done lately that counts!

About Ted C. MacRae

Ted C. MacRae is a research entomologist by vocation and beetle taxonomist by avocation. Areas of expertise in the latter include worldwide jewel beetles (Buprestidae) and North American longhorned beetles (Cerambycidae). More recent work has focused on North American tiger beetles (Cicindelidae) and their distribution, ecology, and conservation.
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8 Responses to Starting my comeback…

  1. James Nelson says:

    You should try drinking beer, it always helps with my recovery. Also, USA Cycling is a big fan of early State Championship races in order to get people qualified for Nationals. Not saying I don’t agree with you, but that is one reason the race is so early in the season.

  2. Bobber says:

    The new look is good. It’s always good to go lean and clean with blogs (at least, that’s what I think).

    Good deal on the TT’s, glad to hear you are feeling better.

    I could say take more vit C, but I wont! 🙂

  3. Patrick says:

    The other rub with our State RR is that it is often more down to MOBRA awarding an existing race worthy of being the State RR the honor and opportunity to do it; otherwise, MOBRA would just be creating yet another race for Big Shark to promote! 😉

    Glad to hear you’re back on the bike for some real racing…also you’ll need to be sending me the ture name of Person X in an email ASAP. 😉

  4. Boz says:

    Sounds like the fitness is coming back quickly. This roadie stuff is quite addicting. I totally loved the TT and now that I’ve got one under my belt, I may shoot for a few more.

  5. Ted M. says:

    James – I’ll be more than happy to give beer a trial run.

    Bobber – James may be onto something with the beer.

    Patrick – the first answer that comes to mind is usually the right one.

    Boz – welcome to the pain train!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Wait, so you’re a cyclist and a runner too?! You know, Columbia is a great biking town (well, it’s no Madison, but a good second)…you should (shuffle of the feet) check it out. I have a clunky little thing (the only bike that never got stolen in New Orleans) that takes me effectively from point a to b and all the cool sites between. ajv

  7. Ted M. says:

    Allison – I run, but some might argue that calling me a “runner” is overly generous. Let’s just say I’m a cyclist that also runs.

    Columbia is great, I lived there 6+ years while in undergrad/grad school – toodled everywhere on my bike (much cheaper than gas, even back in those days). I love going back – even though the faces and even buildings have changed, it still feels like home.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Well, I know some great places now, however altered the landscape may be, but you should visit. I’m spending my weekend with the Harlan maps looking for witness trees by bike. Rumor holds Columbia still has lots of their 200 year old witness trees in place. Hey, so, thanks for reading. You’re a dynamic, brilliant soul who makes me cower. How scary. Allison

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