I raced at Jeff Cup thinking about upgrade points and how best to pursue them. This is probably the root of my having had a crap time during the race. I’ve never put the reins on myself like I did Sunday, constantly telling myself to stay away from the front. It wasn’t even 100% successful, as I did manage to say ‘screw it’ and get to, and off, the front briefly. Going through that Blenheim turn and up the hill on lap four was the one time during the day when I felt like I was actually racing my bike. The decision to go back to the field was motivated by upgrade points – “if you go with the break and it fails you’ll wear yourself out and probably won’t get any points.” As it turned out, I got stuck in the field (my foot was actually on the ground, my bike going 0 miles an hour within shouting distance of the finish) and got about the same finish I would have if I’d shot my whole stash and had fun racing my bike.
I don’t spend all the time and effort training in order to go to races and act like a lemming. Sometimes the race is hard and I haven’t got the mojo to do anything, and that’s fine. Much of the time, the races tend to be parades with everyone holding their cards to their chests and doing what I did on Sunday. Screw that. Maybe the way to upgrade is to play hide and seek all day, I don’t care. It’s pretty well established that I’m not one of these guys who’s going to go from Cat 4 to Cat 1 in a season and is able to ride away from the pack at will, but neither am I a guy who’s struggling to survive in the pack – not even close. If I’m feeling good, as I was on Sunday, I’m going to find out how good that is. If this means I never get the points, so be it. Who cares? Whenever I want, I can pull out the birthday upgrade and race Masters (as I’m doing on Saturday at Walkersville), which generally offers a longer and more challenging race with more teams working together anyway.
Here it is in black and white. I’m going back to racing like a dumb ass. I’m not going out and committing suicide from the gun day in and day out, I’d like to think I have the ability to be a bit more selective and effective than that. Bike racing has always been described to me as something in which your chances of winning are born from your willingness to risk failure. That maxim is totally antithetical to playing the race for your upgrade points.
There you go. See you this weekend.
PS – I think I like Jens Voigt more than John Madden likes Brett Favre.