I had a couple races this past weekend and went on a long bike ride with a new cycling friend and got to visit some other cycling and bookish friends, and overall I had an excellent time.
The races were … well, odd. I came home with three bronze medals, so I should be happy about them, but the truth is that I didn’t race particularly well. I rode in two races; the first one was a race for women 30 and over. The race was short and intense and I worked hard the whole time. As usual, I wasn’t good at positioning myself for the sprint finish, and I ended up somewhere towards the back of the pack. I got 8th place, but there were only 11 of us.
The thing is, though, this was the Connecticut state championships, so the top three Connecticut riders get medals, I happened to be the third one from my state across the line. They were also giving another medal to the top Connecticut masters riders (meaning over a certain age), and so I got two medals for this showing.
The same thing happened in my second race, which was a category 4 race. I finished 11th out of 20 in my field, but was the third Connecticut rider across the line and so got another bronze medal, my third of the day.
This race was hard, though, because there was a nasty crash that happened right next to me about two laps from the finish. I don’t know what happened, but all the sudden the two riders to my left were going down, I was swerving slightly to get out of their way, and then spent the rest of the race shaken by the whole experience. Poor Hobgoblin thought I was one of the ones who crashed, so I was happy to come around with the pack again and show him I was fine.
I’m not entirely sure how to feel about this. I would be a lot more excited about it if I had actually ridden well, and if I weren’t haunted by the sight of bikes and bodies sliding across the road. Again, I wonder why it is I race, and I also don’t feel quite ready to give it up. If nothing else, it’s an excellent motivation to stay strong, not to mention a great way to get strong, and that’s something significant.
But anyway, being the cycling fiend I am, I was up and out riding a 60-mile ride with a new friend who’s just getting into bike racing. We rode the course of the horrible, awful, nasty, miserably hilly race I’m doing this coming Sunday. I was seriously ready not to do the race this year when I found out that we are riding 54 miles instead of the usual 27 miles we’ve ridden in past years. Quite a difference, isn’t it? But … I’ll do it because it’s good training and because I’ve done it the past three years and would feel a little silly skipping it now. It’s very much a sense of pride and maybe a little masochism that’s getting me out on that course next week. We’ll see.
After the tour of the horrible, awful, nasty, miserably hilly race course, Hobgoblin and I headed out to visit two bookish, blogging, cycling friends (here and here). It was a great time, with good food and two great bookstores, R.J. Julia’s and later the Book Barn, a used book shop. For some reason I wasn’t in a mood to acquire a whole lot of new books, perhaps because I’m aware of how many great ones I have waiting for me at home, but I had a wonderful time browsing anyway, and I did come home with two. One is Laurie King’s The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, which is the selection of one of my book groups (confusingly not my mystery book group, even though this is a mystery. That group is reading Benjamin Black’s Christine Falls next). The other is Mary Brunton’s 1814 novel Discipline. She’s been someone I’ve wanted to read for a while, largely because Jane Austen admired her. Also, I’m very pleased with Hobgoblin for buying Elaine Showalter’s book A Jury of Her Peers, which is a history of women writers. I’m going to have to borrow that one from him.
All in all it was a very good weekend, bike crashes aside. I can’t ask for much more than that.