Saturday, October 23, 2010

Mid-Fall Crisis

"You looking for a date ... in 2011?"
For me, autumn is a desperate and ultimately unsuccessful struggle against the inevitability of winter.  And if winter is a time of death, at least it’s a dignified and sterile season that doesn’t pretend to be anything other than what it is.  Fall is an old whore, at first glance pretty enough to tease you into believing that winter is still far away, then decrepit and repulsive in its nakedness.

Is that too dark, too bleak?  I did ride today, after all.  The morning was rainy and miserable looking and not at all fit for the Washington County Bicycle Club’s season finale, so I waited until late afternoon when it was only miserable looking.  My 29-mile effort got me to 4,450 so far this year.  I think tomorrow will be a washout, but Monday should be gorgeous and reaching 4,500 should be a joy.  I’ll be off work all next week, looking for opportunities to ride in the afternoons.  At the moment, save Monday, the weather forecast is unfavorable.

While I waited out today’s rain I had plenty of time to think.  And to what did my mind turn?  Racing … that thing in which I dabble, one or two times a year at best.  I have no reason to expect that I would be any good at it.  My greatest effort as a road bike racer yielded 73rd place out of 113 finishers in the 2008 Omro Classic.  But success in racing need not be measured against other competitors; adding more races to my plans would make me fitter, and that’s good enough by itself.  Oh, and it’s fun.

Several races and other timed events have already been announced for 2011 and I think I’d like to pick from a variety of cycling disciplines.  I can imagine myself doing a couple of road races and time trials, a gravel grinder or two, a gran fondo and maybe even an endurance mountain bike race and/or cyclocross.  Over the winter I plan to make some refinements to my Raleigh Competition and my Giant FCR3, but I’m also thinking about picking up a mountain bike.

I ride between 120 and 150 days each year.  A lot of those rides look exactly the same.  By its nature, training requires repetition and there will always be standard routes that I do again and again.  But I also want to be free to sample different things and to punctuate my calendar with special events.

It’s autumn in Wisconsin and a long layoff from outdoor rides is coming.  It’s not too early to think about 2011.  And if a couple of my plans for next year sound like plans for 2010 that didn't come to fruition, that's all the more reason to take another crack at them.  Hope springs eternal.

Hope next summer's eternal, too.

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