Notes

I’m going to start Infinite Jest very, very soon. I’m just not entirely sure when. I’d really like to follow along with the Infinite Summer schedule, and I’m generally very good at sticking to reading schedules, but I haven’t quite gotten around to going up to my study and hauling that book off the TBR shelves. I have been poking around on the Infinite Summer forums by way of preparation, and the various hints I’ve gotten about the book are intriguing. Maybe I’ll start it tomorrow.

I’m almost finished with Vladimir Nabokov’s Lectures on Literature and am about halfway through Mary Brunton’s Discipline. I’m not sure what to think about the Brunton novel. At times I’m enjoying it, and at other times I get annoyed at the main character, a first-person narrator, who does some inexplicable things. The book has enough narrative tension to keep me moving along, though, so I’ll stick with it to see how it all turns out.

And now on to cycling. My race yesterday didn’t go well. It’s a race I hate, though, so the real question is why I keep doing it, not why I didn’t do well. I woke up yesterday morning feeling very draggy, and I never really got over that feeling, even after I’d been out racing for a while. I’m not sure how much of this is physical and how much is psychological; it’s quite possible that I’ve decided this race is so horrible that I psych myself out of doing well.

The race started off okay; we have a neutral start up a long, steep hill, which means that we ride slowly and don’t race until we reach the top. Last year the neutral start wasn’t really neutral — it was too fast to be called that — but this year they kept the start very slow. After that, though, things got worse. We headed down hill, which is an immediate problem, as the roads were wet and the pack kept speeding up and slowing down, forcing me to slam on my brakes as I was flying down the hill. I’m not a particularly fast downhill rider, and the yo-yo-ing the pack was doing made me nervous, so I was slower than usual. That meant that I fell a little behind and had to chase on the flat sections.

And then we hit the hills. I hung on for a while, but soon enough the pack was taking off, and I didn’t have the necessary will, leg muscle, cardiovascular fitness, or all of the above, and I fell behind again. And it was only 8 or so miles into a 50-mile race.

I found some other dropped riders and we rode together for a while, but then I saw Hobgoblin sitting on the side of the rode looking ill. I stopped to see what was wrong, and he didn’t look well at all. He said he’d come down with a migraine right in the middle of the race. He was in a lot of pain and was looking really weak, so we got him a ride in one of the race vans, and I rode back to the start/finish line planning to meet him there.

And that was that. I’m not at all happy Hobgoblin suffered, but I didn’t mind having a good excuse to drop out of what was promising to be a miserable ride. So once again he’s confirmation that hilly road races are not for me. I don’t mind riding up hills, but chasing other, faster riders up hills is truly nightmarish. To make myself feel better about riding in general, I went out on a 40-mile ride this morning, and it was lovely, so all is relatively well. And Hobgoblin seems to be feeling better today.

12 Comments

Filed under Books, Cycling, Fiction

12 responses to “Notes

  1. Glad to hear the Hobgoblin is feeling better, and glad that you could be there to look after him. Maybe your goals are just changing, Dorothy, and after the youthful years of being determined to rise to any challenge, you’re starting to discern what kind of challenge holds the most interest for you?

  2. I hope you start “Infinite Jest” soon. I’m reading with the Infinite Summer people. The way I see it, I’ll read about ten pages a day, and that’ll keep me on schedule.

  3. Sorry the race didn’t go well and too bad about Hobgoblin. Hope he’s made a recovery from the migraine. I’d like to read Infinite Jest someday but it’s not going to be for a very long time, so please get to it so I can have a go at it vicariously through you :)

  4. Haven’t read this, and I don’t think I’m going to tackle it this summer. However, I would love to see what everyone has to say about it. Sorry the race went poorly. Just remember, there are those of us out there who couldn’t ride five miles downhill. :)

  5. Poor Hobgoblin–I hope it wasn’t due to heat that he was ill! I would definitely prefer the more leisurely sorts of rides you sometimes do than the more competitive stuff. It’s good you know when to say when and drop out rather than push yourself to the end and be miserable. Have fun reading Infinite Jest–I’m not sure I’ll ever get around to reading his work, but he does sound interesting!

  6. I am glad to hear Hobgoblin is feeling better. I can’t imagine a worse place to come down with one, than out on that course. At least it wasn’t hot.

    There is no reason to keep flogging yourself at a race that you hate. It’s strictly voluntary, this thing we do. Also, I think the promoter has really screwed the pooch with how the race is now structured. It’s totally backwards: starting on the hill and finishing right in front of the school.

  7. Litlove — I’m going to have to think about your comment more because I’m not entirely sure how I’m dealing with challenges these days. The dilemma is that I’m unsure whether the benefits of racing outweigh the drawbacks, and I’m intensely aware of the existence of both. I suppose I am starting to discern what challenges are right for me, but the key word is “starting”!

    Brandon — I did start reading Infinite Jest yesterday and so far so good. I think I’m going to like it a lot.

    Stefanie — yes, Hobgoblin is doing quite a bit better now, thank you! I did start reading Infinite Jest and will probably do pretty well following the schedule. So far I’m liking it a lot.

    Lisa — you are absolutely to help me put the racing in perspective! It’s a pretty elite group of people who race, and I should be pleased with myself for being out there at all.

    Danielle — I do enjoy the more leisurely rides more than the races, but part of the issue is that racing makes me strong in a way that makes easier rides even more fun, and that strength helps me to keep up with my racing friends on group rides, and there are other benefits to racing as well, that I have a hard time giving it up. I suppose I’m still working on figuring out when it’s good to bail and when I should keep going — that’s never an easy thing to determine.

    Fendergal — the race wasn’t hot, but it was incredibly muggy and the sun was starting to come out, so it actually felt pretty bad. I’m sure that didn’t help Hobgoblin at all. Good point that racing is voluntary! It’s easy to forget, really, and once again, I’ll have to rethink whether I want to do the race or not next year.

  8. The sacrifices husbands will make for their wives: just think, Hobs came down with a migraine just for you :-)! Glad he’s feeling better and that you didn’t have to finish that awful-sounding race (the mere notion of racing people down hill on wet roads makes me shudder).

  9. I’m glad Hobgoblin is better now!

    Maybe racing isn’t an either or thing; maybe it’s just a matter of concentrating on the races you enjoy, and dropping the ones that leave you feeling miserable?

  10. My copy of Infinite Jest is about a foot away from me right now. With the Infinite Summer site’s suggested syllabus folded inside it. The guides are offering up their initial posts on Monday the 29th, and I feel confident that I can deliver on the first 94 pages of reading by then. I am not really sharing so much here as putting this out in a public forum so I actually do it. Eeek.

  11. Glad you are both feeling better. I know exactly what you mean about being nervous in uneven packs: I got my front wheel knocked out from under me in one. The next rider slid into my back and the next one rode over the top of both of us. Riding fast can be a lot of fun, but if I don’t trust the other riders, I want to be alone on an open road. Take care and choose the rides that are for you.

  12. Emily — he’s very kind, isn’t he? Yes, racing down wet roads in a pack is a truly ridiculous thing to do. I’m not a risk-taking, dare-devil kind of person, so no wonder I felt awful that whole race.

    Debby — you’re right about doing certain kinds of races and not others. The difficulty is that my feelings about racing change, so that a race that I think will make me miserable turns out to be fun. But perhaps if I’ve felt unhappy about a race for several years now, that’s a good sign it’s time to stop!

    Frances — yes, I hope you do it! It’s good so far, and the pace is really pretty easy. We’ll see how I feel in August, but right now I’m happy to be a part of things.

    Bikkuri — you’re right that it’s best to know the riders around you. That’s what makes a Cat 4 field so difficult, because there are inevitably some new racers in the field. Sorry about that crash!

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