Sunday, August 12, 2007

Comfort zone

Sunday, 12 August

Today I let myself be taken way outside my comfort zone--and it was a 100% positive experience.

I am the queen of crit avoidance. Sneak one into a stage race on me, and I'll take whatever prorated time the officials give me; just get me off the course. But today I was committed to the OBRA crit championship in Gresham--on the tandem with Sal.

I kept waiting for the apprehension attack, for hating myself for getting into the position I was in, and then for the sense of impending doom at race time. They didn't show up. Since ours was the first race, we got to preride the course a bunch of times. That helped a lot. And I knew most of the other riders in the race. Still, 6 corners was 2 more than I'd ever seen in a tandem crit--and 6 more than this time trialer would like.

The male-male bikes did most of the mixing it up today, with 2 of them staying away for the second half of the race. The eventual race winners took a really bad line through an early corner and nearly put most of the field into the curb. The things you don't see on the back of a tandem are nice sometimes; I was just aware that we got REALLY close to the sidewalk coming out of that corner and heard the words fly. On the other hand, it's hard to sense how much harder you're going when called upon. It hurts, but you can't see much difference because the stoker isn't getting all those visual cues that the captain is, the ones you get on your single bike.

I think I was pretty relaxed during the race; I never had the familiar panicked feeling of "we are going WAY too fast into this corner." There were maybe 3 or 4 times when you might say we were pedaling against each other. Considering that we have ridden together 4 times in 6 months, and that the race was 30 minutes long, 5 seconds of mis-timed effort is not so bad.

My captain and his bike were awesome in this crit. I am sure he had to do a lot more work, simply because the course was fairly technical. I just had to pedal and lean...and sometimes pedal harder. Time in a crit has never ticked down off the race clock so fast, and never before have I paid no attention to how many times we'd gone around the circuit.

It's funny. The whole CONCEPT of a tandem crit is way outside my comfort zone. But the EXPERIENCE of this one was not. I guess that's why you're supposed to push yourself sometimes--to expand your comfort zone. I'm glad I did.

Oh yeah. Results. We were the first mixed tandem, 4th overall, 2nd in the pack sprint. I have no idea how we did in the finishing sprint; nobody came around us, but I couldn't see the bike that won to know if the gap got bigger or we kept it close in the last straightaway. Primes went to the guys up the road, and I don't even know what they were.

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