(Photo by Carlos A. Sabillon)
What do you do when you perform far worse than your expectations?
It’s easy to get down on yourself and feel embarrassed. It’s easy to make excuses. Don’t take the easy way out, except when it is the way out.
I performed like a complete amateur in my first road race at Ken Woods on Saturday. Well, I am an amateur, but I want to perform like a pro. I was OTB (off the back) at the end of lap one when Pat “Patty Cakes” Lemieux (Kenda neo-pro) attacked on the climb I led the field into. I have some work to do tactically and aerobically before I’m up to par with my Category 1/2 racers.
Lap One = 21 Miles
Only 63 miles left! I had to throw in the towel after three laps (63 miles). I got the race training that I wanted (kind of), but not the results. I could have prepared myself much better.
Check out the Ken Woods RR Men’s Pro/1/2 video highlights - thanks to skinnyski.com and Minneapolis Musette for the coverage of the chilly, windy classic (that part is not worthy of excuses, for real).
An Argument for Excuses
Sometimes excuses energize you to try again and do better the next time around. Excuses help you laugh, and they help you realize areas for improvement. Don’t use excuses as a way of avoiding responsibility. It doesn’t look good, and it doesn’t help anyone. Lists like these help me in more than bike racing. It’s time to get on form!
Without further ado, a list of excuses (or “deficiencies,” if that helps):
- I got five hours of sleep.
- I didn’t get a warm-up in before race start.
- I almost didn’t make it to the start in time.
- I didn’t answer a crucial acceleration quick enough at the end of lap one, which caused me to lose contact with the field.
- What’s wrong with my knee? (more on this later)
- I have fewer than 500 miles on the road in my legs.
- I raced new (previously used) wheels I hadn’t tested out before the race.
Note: The first three points actually have yielded me a good result before. However, that makes me wonder how much better that result could have been.
Now I have a list of several things I can improve upon. Next, take action! Now is not the time for excuses (for real).
My actionable steps are direct results of my list of excuses:
Step 1: Recovery ride - Basically, just spinning. I had a 16.5 mph average speed over 35 miles. I attempted to meet some Balance Cycling guys on the Greenway, but we missed paths somehow. I still got a good ride in and burned enough calories to overindulge on Easter brunch (recovery). Never skimp on recovery, even if you’re injured.
Step 2: Address this knee issue - I felt it this morning before my ride, and it acted up on the ride. Ice, ice, Traumeel gel (anti-inflammatory), heating pad, stretch. Repeat daily to keep the blood flowing. Tomorrow, I’ll raise my saddle a couple millimeters to see if that helps.
Step 3: Get those wheels in racing condition! - Too much rolling resistance here. This one applies to the Reynolds wheels below (which I am grateful to have borrowed from a very kind friend) and to my legs. It’s time to put in a lot of miles day after day.
The fourth obvious improvement is my race preparation. Poor preparation always comes back to bite you in the ass. My ass hurts. Learn your lesson on this one quickly.
What Excuses Are Not
Excuses should not be cop-outs. Don’t allow these to be the reason for your poor performance. The true reasons are poor preparation, bad tactics and low confidence. Plain and simple.
Don’t dwell on excuses. Use them as energy, and move on. My competitors outperformed me in all aspects this week. I know what needs work, and I will build on incremental improvements everyday.
Be strong and live large.