Although my results this past season were better than last year’s, my 2019 season was wrought with unnecessary drama that made it difficult to stay focused on racing. Between volunteering, managing a new initiative, job woes, and relationships, my head was not in the game.
I tried to direct my anger, anxiety, and depression into my racing efforts but it did the opposite. I can at least walk away from the season knowing I did what I could with what I had at the time. Thankfully, I have a supportive family. I know without them - showing up to races alone, warming up alone, and going home alone - it would have been even harder.
In the end, I had 14 Top 5 finishes, 10 Podiums, and 2 wins (mountain biking). My goal for the 2019 Season was to upgrade to a Cat 2. This meant earning 30 upgrade points by winning races or landing on the podium. I only had 13 points at the end of the season. 17 off from an upgrade. Why I thought this would be my year, who knows. I wanted to be right. I thought I’d do well enough but then Life happened. As it always does.
I wrote anecdotes throughout the season to help others as much as I wanted to help myself. I wanted other racers to know they weren’t alone and we (I) shouldn’t take racing so seriously.
Front Range Cycling Classic Road Race
SW Open Results: 8/27
My goal is always to win but I knew my fitness and capabilities and it wasn’t a realistic goal for this race. Top 10 out of 27 felt obtainable but not easy. There were a number of pros signed up.
I woke up with breathtaking upper back pain. The same pain I was experiencing when I started commuting to work, hauling a giant backpack to and fro. Frustratingly, I did everything Chris at PhysioRoom instructed me to do and it returned with vengeance. I’d also been plagued with lower back pain.
I stayed on the front of the peloton too long. Realizing this, I soft-pedaled at 119 watts. Recovery pace. Later I was told this was the way racing goes and I was annoyed by it because I’m inexperienced.
It was clear what my training lacked: Efforts at tempo then sprinting every five minutes. I compared my finishing times. Last year I was roughly five minutes behind the winner. This year, I was only two. I know my weakness is hills.
Karen Hornbostel Memorial TT Series #1
P-1-2-3 Results: 3 / 5
I was only able to do one race this season due to scheduling conflicts at work (I won’t even get started on that). I compared my time (0:23:24) to last year’s (0:25:50) and was a little impressed with the time I was able to knock off.
SW 3 Results: 3/11
As I packed up my gear, Chris VP ran up to me to tell me I came in 3rd place and missed the podium. The whole time during the race, I convinced myself I was probably middle of the pack.
I wanted to stay on Jen’s wheel since she’s a Cat 2, but when her teammate sprinted off the front of the group and she held back, I realized she was controlling the field so her teammate could get away. Wrong wheel to hold.
Boulder Roubaix Road Race
SW 3 Results: 3/12
Originally, I made it my “A” race, an important, get-me-some-upgrade-points kind of race. That was until I previewed the course and lost any modicum of confidence I once had. As soon as I pulled up to my car and dusted off, I updated my TrainingPeaks account with “C.” When I came in third, imposter syndrome immediately set in.
I still planned to do my best and face my gravel fears, but I also didn’t expect to podium.
I’d lose the group on any dirt descents or sandy turns, and then I’d have to sprint to catch up. There was no way I was gonna podium. In the second lap, we caught up with one woman and joked that we were racing for third. “Ah hell,” I thought, “I’m not too good for third.”
In the last section of hills, I managed to discreetly pass the women in the front. I looked behind me as I crested the top and noticed they were a few bike lengths behind. I “punched” as soon as I realized I had a small chance to get away. There was probably ¾ of a mile left until the finish. I saw the 500-meter sign. I looked behind me. No one near. I continued to charge. I kept saying, “give me this. Come on.” 250-meter sign zoomed past my right side. I expected a group of women to fly past me. I looked back, no one. Then the 100-meter sign. “Comeoncomeoncomeon.”
CSU - Cobb Lake Road Race
SW Pro-1-2-3 Results: 9/12
I thought because I was racing against Pros, 1’s and 2’s, I wasn’t capable of keeping up with them. There were several attacks and I bridged the gap too many times throughout the race, burning any and all matches.
As we sprinted up the final hill toward the end of the race, I focused on the two other women next to me. I watched them pedal. I watched for gear shifts. I watched for any out of the saddle movements.
One of the women sprinted off and I followed. She out-sprinted me at the finish. I came in 9th.
SW 3 Results: 3/6
We started fast. I was up in the front the whole time on the dirt on the first lap. I knew it was a mistake, but I was also nervous about the dirt and wanted to be able to pick my own line. After the top of the hill, we started pacelining. I didn't stay on the front long at all, maybe 15 seconds.
In the second lap, I stayed off the front on the dirt. The Junior continually cut me off at the base of the hill. I wanted to throw an elbow, but didn't. It was the same situation on the third lap: I didn't stay long in the front and had to work harder on the dirt.
In the final lap, the Junior cut me off again at the base of the hill. I stayed on her wheel until the very top. They still had more energy and I was dropping from them. I tried to push but ended up solo'ing from the top of the hill to the finish line for third.
Modern Market Criterium
SW 3 Results: 2 / 5
I messed up my warm-up because my gears were sticking so I went to the mechanic to have him fixed it. My legs weren’t ready. During the race, I tried to duck as much as I could.
I took a chance with eight laps and attacked to see what would happen. This other chick came with me but she didn’t want to work hard so the group caught back up with us. Gwen attacked a couple of times. I tired myself out trying not to get kicked off the back.
In the last lap, they attacked. I worked hard to bridge up and caught back on. In the final sprint I didn’t have much left in the tank. I lost to Cassidy by a tire length, if that.
SW 3 Results: 2/8
My legs felt pretty good. I hid in the pack the whole time. I attacked in the final lap. The group caught up to me. I tried positioning myself at the front before the last turn. I couldn’t quite get there. I came in second by a tire length...again.
Superior Morgul Road Race
SW 3 Results: 4/6
I knew the finish on “The Wall” was going to be a bastard. I wanted First Place to prove that I was stronger than years past. What really messed with me was believing that two of the five of us were Masters racers racing up to the finish. I thought that I only had to out-sprint two other racers.
Come to find out, as I walked toward the podium when Lance said, “In 3rd place….”, there was another Cat 3 rider I didn’t notice. Thanks to confusing bib numbers and the fact that the Cat 3’s have dismal attendance in nearly every Colorado race, that woman was on the podium instead of me.
The ineffable feeling of crossing that white line behind the rest of the pack instantly made me feel inadequate.
City Park Crit
SM 4 Results: 32/68
This was the sketchiest race I’ve ever been in. I was shocked there wasn’t a crash. It was difficult to move up at all. Riders were squirrely. I was in the middle of the pack the whole. Any time I moved up a few positions, dudes would pass me. I never just stayed in one spot. I constantly tried to move up but damn, with so many guys it was hard. I know I was too sketched to move up in some spots because of the riders.
Fitness-wise, I held on just fine. I was just too sketched out at the end with the guys all over the place to sprint.
Lookout Mountain Hill Climb
SW 3 Results: 3/9
I joked with my teammates I was paying to do an FTP Test. The race wouldn’t count towards upgrade points - which I found out that morning. It was too short of a race.
I made the mistake of looking at the sign-up list the night before. I was familiar with most of the names I saw. I even clicked the “race predictor” button, out of some sick interest to see where the system “predicted” I’d place. I was somewhere in the middle.
Oddly enough, I was able to outsprint an ALP rider at the end. I held on to her wheel until 50-meters out. I whipped around her and ended up in third, totally blowing my mind.
Ridge at 38 Senior State Criterium Championship
SW 3 Results: 7/14
With three laps to go, there was a prime. Christa had surged off the front to win it. My legs felt good enough and the pack was riding at a pace that I felt confident attacking without anyone following me. I like Christa and wanted to play around with her.
She looked back and saw me coming. I barreled down the gap between Christa and the peloton, sneaking around the right side of her, and snagging the prime. I smiled at her as I crossed the line. I burned my only matches for a $15 gift card to Wheat Ridge Cyclery.
Cassidy won by two seconds. The sprint finish was exactly how I thought it’d go: the whole slew of us pounding away on our pedals to beat the others. I came in 7th by .1 seconds or something.
Timnath Reservoir Road Race
SW 3 Results: 6/14
I hung in the pack the whole time. I ended up in the front a couple of times but soft-pedaled. Andie attacked in the second lap, Annie followed. No one followed her so I chased her. I caught up to them and said to push it but they slowed down. Not sure if they planned something without me even though I asked them if they’d like to work together before the race started.
It came down to a bunched sprint finish per usual. I was on the third wheel and tried to stay behind them as Adam instructed me to do. We got surrounded by the others, I got boxed in. It was handlebar to handlebar. I didn’t want to cause a crash so I didn’t move.
Sending myself and others to the hospital for a podium didn’t seem worth it to me at the time.
Pure Venom MTB Race
Beginner Results: 1 / 3
I needed a change. A mountain bike race is much more relaxed than a road race. I still take it seriously, but it’s easier to let your guard down at a mountain bike race.
When I signed up for the Rattler Series’ “Pure Venom” mountain bike race, I considered signing up in Sport. The 9-mile race for the beginners seemed way too short. Sport had nearly twice that length. Then I remembered why I was a beginner: descents still scared me. I feather the brake nearly the whole way down.
I felt guilty dropping the two women in the first minute of the mountain bike race, but I had to work to my strengths. I gunned it up the steep hill and continued on, the announcer nearly missing me cross the timing line. I caught up to the Juniors and the Beginner Men in the first lap. As soon as I passed the men on the ascents, they cruised past me on the descents, thus confirming why I still race in the beginner group. Sometimes, I feel weird about being a Road Cat 3 racing Beginner in Mountain Biking, but the two are so different.
Winter Park Series: Point-to-Point
Beginner Results: 1/7
I followed the Tokyo Jos girl thinking she was in my category. She’s 15. I’d pass on the uphills and she’d pass on the downhills. I tried to stay on her wheel the whole time. I didn’t know where the finish line was and was convinced she won since she was ahead at the finish.
Then they called my name in First Place.
Bob Cook Memorial Mt. Evans Hill Climb Senior State Championships
SW 3 Results: 4 / 5
It was a challenging start at the get-go. I was putting out 260 watts to keep up with the women. I held on for seven miles and couldn’t stick with them any longer. I had to solo the rest of the 21 miles. The higher I got, the harder it felt. It took mental toughness to continue on without giving up.
I did end up PR’ing by 19 minutes which was kinda cool.
Littleton Twilight Criterium
SW 3 Results: 4 / 9
I didn’t really want to race. There’d been a lot of bullshit with women’s road racing, my personal life, and my career that my heart just wasn’t in it. I looked forward to our race being over.
I pushed ahead out of the first corner and kept up the pace until Olivia, Mollie, and Haley caught up to me. One of them attacked and the other two stayed on her wheel. I struggled to keep up, having burned all my matches out of the hundreds of turns and attacks from the previous 35 minutes. We dove through the last corner and Olivia, Molly, and Haley sprinted to the finish.
I hoped to defend my Senior State Road Race Champion title this year. I previewed the Golden Road Race several times and practiced the descent over and over until I felt comfortable. Then it was canceled. It was rescheduled to late September, while inconvenient, still meant I could race it.
A few days after the rescheduled date, the race was completely canceled and the Senior State Road Race Championship was scheduled for September 8th at the Air Force Academy, doubling up with the Master’s State Championship. I was going to be in Mallorca for it. I saw who was racing and knew I wouldn’t have been able to defend my title anyway.
Then I realized one day I will cease to exist. When I contemplate death and life, the trivial, the banal, and the vanity of humanity doesn’t seem as important. When I’m lying on my deathbed, I’m not going to care about the races I came in 9th or third. I’m not going to care that I had extra fat on my legs which made it harder to push myself up Hill Climbs.
In the grand scheme of Life, most of my worries are trite. They don’t really matter. I watched “The Bill Murray Stories: Life Lessons Learned from a Mythical Man,” after a colleague of mine recommended it. There was a part in it with Bill yelling, “It just doesn’t matter!” over and over again.
I’m an amateur bike racer and it’s unlikely I’ll become a professional. All I can do is my best year after year and encourage others to do the same.