It had been exactly 6 weeks since my previous race, and a lot had changed:
- I spent 5 weeks receiving medical treatment for a broken finger and nail.
- I changed residences to a village named “Karrika”.
- I discovered new training routes around Karrika.
- I accidentally clogged the shower in the new house.
Last Sunday (4th June), I signed up for my second race in Spain. A 122km spin around the town of Bergara with two cat-2 climbs in the final 30kms of the race. I lined up at the start line, with my primary goal to not crash.
When the race started, I settled into the back of the bunch and decided to keep out of much trouble. The temperature was 8 degrees celsius and there were torrential rains scheduled for 10 mins from the start.
As we exited the town, the rains decided to prove meteorologists wrong and started their thing earlier than expected. The speed quickly went up to higher than 45 kilometres per hour with everyone on the edge of their seats. While the slick and wet roads had everyone on the edge of their nerves.
20minutes into the race, a 10 man breakaway managed to get off the front and the pace quietened a bit, but still above 40kmph. The downpour too quietened to a drizzle. This gave a chance for us cyclists to perform the lesser important tasks of racing – take off their leg warmers, removing the jackets, pee while riding and swerve to avoid the guy peeing.
As we finished the first lap and re-entered the town of Bergara after 20 kilometres, the rain picked up again. A sense of collective safety ran through the bunch and everyone took the turns super slow and careful. That was quite helpful as now my braking abilities had drastically reduced because of the lack of friction.
As the race crossed the 45 minutes mark, a cold though ran through my mind, about how this was the point where I crashed in the previous race. I decided to not pay much heed to it and decided to focus on the real problems at hand. Like navigating the wet & slippery roads and the clogged shower back home.
At the 50 kilometre mark, I had a heart-in-the-mouth moment as I hit a pothole and nearly lost control. But since I was in the tail-end of the bunch, nobody crashed into me and I rejoined the bunch.
Over the next 10 minutes, I was struggling to stay in the bunch. I thought it was due to the lack of fitness owing to the large gap in training and pulled out.
I headed back riding to the car feeling wet, lonely and dejected while questioning if I’ll ever be good enough. To keep my mind occupied, I began calculating the long way back to my peak racing form and the effort involved, when a ray of sunshine shone upon me. Metaphorically speaking – as I heard my brakes rubbing against my front rim!