All I want to do is drink beer and train like an animal.
- Rod Dixon

I'm feeling rough. I'm feeling raw. I'm in the prime of my life.

Sunday - 05/21/06 - Wheels on Willy Crit


Or at least nearly so.

The Wheels on Willy Crit is put on by the Brazen Dropouts Cycling Team over on the otherside of town. It's a nice local race with lots of talent and lots of crowd support.

I started the day at 5 am in Kenosha where I was visiting Jess's family. We got back to Madison at about 8 am. A little after 9 I had signed up for my USCF license and for the Men's 4/5 crit.

After I signed up I ran into Jason Newville, Chuck and Eaon with his Start Village cart. We hung out for a little bit and watched some of the Jr. races. Some of those kids have ridiculous bikes. We're talking like Zipp wheelsets and carbon frames. I'm just looking at these kids thinking "wtf kid - you're 10".

A little after 10 we started getting kitted up and went out on a warmup to get a few hard efforts in. I felt ok, not really strong but not tired or anything.

At the line I ran into a ton of UW teammates. In addition to Jason and Chuck I saw Eric, Todd, Mike Ritter, and Baumen. I know that Casey, Mary and Sparkey were showing up for the latter races. Almost all my teammates now ride for club teams in the summer such as Endervor, Brazen or I.S. Corp.

Now the way USCF races work is that every rider is in a category - pro, 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5. You score points by placing in the top spots in a race and when you have enough (I have no idea how many) you can upgrade to the next category. So as a result the people who are taking the top spots in a category are practically racers in the next category.

Now my heat was the men's 4/5 race which meant that the best racers were guys trying to get into the 3's. As this is was my 2nd crit this spelled a lot of wheel chasing for me.

Well as it turned out I never even got that far. As soon as the race took off I had trouble clipping in and slipped right out the back of the group falling practically into last place. As I came onto the back of the main body I just couldn't stay on. While I never squirreled around I took all the corners at bad lines and couldn't get comfortably behind a wheel. As a result I was playing catchup out of every corner.

That could only last so long and before 10 min I was shelled off the back into a smaller chase group of about 8 riders. Again, the same thing happened until I was riding dead fucking last in the race.

The announcer took the time to look up my name and every kilometer when I came around the start/finish "Here comes Alex Viana ladies and gentleman. He is staying in the race. He is not quitting - let's cheer him on."

Man, talk about a pity clap.

I eventually got lapped at about 20 min into the 40 min race. But I jumped on a couple of guy that though they had already lapped me fell off of the main group and I rode most of the rest of the way with them again. I finally found a groove and was able to draft and pull and take good corners. Beside the fact I had been totally blow away already I felt pretty good at this point.

Near the end we got lapped again and those guys dropped out. I had considered dropping out a few times but I was planning on taking a few weeks off before my next race so I wanted to get in a full effort today.

I jumped on with a few other guys and was able to finish the race. Nearly, if not last place, though a lot of people dropped out once they were off the back of the pack.

One of the things I'm really happy about is that I took my handsome bashing in stride. In high school I was very very very hard on myself if I didn't meet my expectations, reasonable or otherwise. By refusing to acknowledge that what I was doing was special I think I ended up hurting other people around me more that I still realize. I've learned a lot from my teammates on the cycling team about how to have a bad day and take it in stride and I'm very thankful for that.

All in all I'm only a few weeks out from what I proclaimed as "the worst shape of my life" and just finishing up my first week of actual base training so I'm not in a position to complain.

Lastly, a few of my friends came out and watched me. Though it was a complete trouncing it was cool to have some of my friends participate in what I do.

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