It’s been one month since the debacle at this year’s Missouri State Time Trial. I had planned to pick myself up off the ground, get myself ready for the ABR Masters Time Trial in late August, and hopefully turn in a strong performance there to close out my season. Unfortunately, things would have to get worse before they could get better. Two days after State TT, I sliced my right forefinger at work with a scalpel. It was a stupid accident that required 6 sutures and had me queezing like a little girl. I’m not convinced that lingering effects from the heat exhaustion I suffered two days earlier didn’t have something to do with it. If you’ve never experienced a deep laceration of the finger pad, I can tell you it is a quite painful “little” injury – between that and the lethargy I was experiencing in the days after State TT, I was in no condition (or mood) to train. I stayed off the bike for the remainder of the week, hoping the rest would do my body some good, and started back up the following week.
The following Monday I got back on the bike. My legs were noodly, but this was to be expected – I just rode easy as a first step in getting back on track. The next day I figured to up the intensity some, but I just felt terrible. I stopped at a gas station midride and just sat on a bench trying to catch my breath. I knew it was hot, but it wasn’t until I got back that I found out the temperature had reached 102°F. The hot weather continued for the rest of the week, so rather than fighting it I just rode conservatively. I needed to just find my legs anyway, and I would still have two weeks for structured training followed by a week of taper before the race. I went out to Innsbrook that weekend with my family and watched my girls win their races at the MiniMax aquathlon but bonked on my own rides from the heat and climbing. I hoped things would get better the following week, but they didn’t. The heat had subsided somewhat, but I continued to feel feel terrible on my rides – I just couldn’t breathe, and my legs had absolutely no power, especially when the road turned at all upwards. I ended the week with my first time back on the TT bike (thanks Ryan!), and it was not pretty! The first interval was okay, but the next two were almost half a minute off target. I would have one more long interval workout before the race, and in my mind things would have to improve dramatically to justify the long drive up to Rockford, IL on race day.
Just when I was starting to get worried, my form seemed to improve as suddenly as it had disappeared. Going into my third week back on the bike, I started feeling strong again. It ended up being a fantastic week – my legs felt good, I was riding fast, a late summer cool snap had made conditions quite pleasant, and all of a sudden I was turning in lap times on my lunchtime route that were flirting with some of my best ever. My return to good form was confirmed when, at the end of the week, I did another long interval workout on the TT bike and turned in three solid intervals that were all within a few seconds of target. It seemed like my fortunes were finally changing, and with one week to go before the ABR Masters race, the timing couldn’t be better. It would have been nice to have one or two more weeks to put the finishing touches on my form, but in all honesty I was just happy to have any form at all going into the final week.
ABR races seem to be quite popular in Indiana and Illinois, but few people in St. Louis seem to care. I’ve heard some St. Louisans refer to it mockingly as “ABR – Another Bad Race.” I think that’s a little unfair – ABR is certainly no match for USA Cycling, but the ABR races I’ve done (one road race and three time trials for Masters championships) have been well run, well attended, and quite competitive. I was hoping the Masters road race and time trial would be on the same weekend, like they were the first year I did them, but in my early season check of the calender I saw this was not the case. Still, I marked August 23 on my calender at the beginning of the season and looked forward to the chance to claim another jersey. Now, in the middle of my taper week leading up to the race, I needed to make hotel reservations. I like to drive up the night before and stay at the Rockford Super8, so I went online to make my reservation. While online, I thought I would go to the ABR website and download the race flyer, but it wasn’t among the races listed for August 23. I wondered if they had changed it to August 24, but it wasn’t there either. Then I saw it… list for August 16 – last weekend! I had missed it. In a matter of seconds, my hopes for a jersey had been changed to a DNS! Now, I know race dates can change, but for the past three years I’ve done it, the race has been held on the last weekend in August – now it’s the middle of the month? Still, I was angry with myself for not verifying the race date sooner.
So, for all intents, my race season is over. I’m not interested in doing crits anymore, so Gateway Cup was never on the calender. Otterville road race is tomorrow – I did this race last year and had fun (despite a broken chain 3 miles from the finish), but I’m finding it hard to get excited about road races anymore, also – the same characters, doing the same things, on the same courses. So instead, I decided to go out for a couple of hours today. I felt energetic starting out (as I should, since I’ve tapered all week), but it did not last. As the temps soared to 90°F, I started feeling just like I did the first few weeks after State TT – trouble breathing, heavy legs, absolutely no power. I spent the second half of the ride just limping home, and though I was demoralized, in a small way I was happy because I now knew what the problem was – I cannot handle the heat. That was my problem after State TT, and it continues to be a problem. It was no coincidence that I finally rode so strongly during last week’s cool snap. I don’t know if this is a normal reaction after experiencing heat exhaustion, but I sure hope it’s not permanent. With autumn just around the corner, however, I shouldn’t be having too many problems for awhile. Moreover, I look forward to enjoying the fall riding season that crashes kept me from enjoying last year and the year before. As for next year and beyond, I think I have some decisions to make.