Shoes, helmet, coffee. That’s my new pre-race checklist. That’s all I really need to race my bike. I would’ve listed a bike, but if you forget your bike you’re a doof. I prefer to think that I’m one step higher than doofs on the evolution ladder, which after Sunday, may not be the case. Since this is a pre-RACE checklist, I’ve added the helmet. Previously, my pre-RIDE checklist only consisted of one thing…shoes (for more on that initial list read Flip Flops are Not Shoes.) So, I’ve added coffee, since I discovered State Championship Sunday that without coffee I’m about as functional as a hundred-year-old in a convalescent home.
Against the advice of my wife who knows I can work myself into a nervous gagging twit before a race, I did think about this race all week long. I made sure I got my hard workouts in and gave myself time to recoup in between. I checked out the pre-reg list just after the deadline passed. I cleaned and lubed both bikes. The day before I got in an easy spin, packed my bag, made up a cooler bag with water bottles, GU’s and snacks. My tool box, bikes, work stand, pit kit and foldable chairs waited alongside my truck in the garage. I ate a good breakfast and was buttoned up top to bottom. However, I wasn’t nervous at all. Like an assembly line worker, I had a job to do. Unfortunately, I neglected to screw on one little nut that held the whole thing together: caffeine.
In the last three races only one guy from Ohio had finished in front of me, and just by maybe ten seconds. Aside from him, the always fast Garth Prosser who was listed on the pre-reg list, and the fact that the Kentucky guys would still win the race, I thought I had a reasonable shot at winning the Ohio State Cyclocross Masters Championships (being the first Masters 35+ rider who lives in Ohio to cross the finish line.) Yeah, I’m such a dork that I googled the riders on the pre-reg list to see who was from Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Kentucky. Shut up. You do it too. At least I admit it. I only had to worry about masters aged Ohioans. I just had to hope that I was ten seconds faster than the Lake Effect guy who beat me in Yellow Springs and that maybe Garth would either get his dreadlocks caught in his derailleur or forget to drink coffee in the morning, come down with a debilitating headache which would be compounded by the bumpy frozen course, a case of the wishy- washies and be forced to withdraw from the race prior to the start and drive home a quivering wreck. Or, actually ride faster than him. I was hoping for the former.
Garth’s hair did not get caught in his derailleur. I forgot to drink coffee in the morning. Yada, yada, yada…with my entry refunded ten minutes before the start of the race, my teammates stood with a look of “where the f*** are you going" on their faces as I drove away body shivering, bones aching, head throbbing and swimming in dizzyness. It was so nasty I didn’t even give my buddies the courtesy stop to let them know what was going on. I just wanted to crawl under a warm blanket and sleep the day away with our warm and fuzzy kitties.
A few blocks from the Columbus venue, I pulled into Walgreens and snatched up a bottle of generic Advil and a rather colossal bottle of Diet Mountain Dew. When I swung into the driveway, two hours later in Cincinnati, the head and other aches were gone. For the most part the wishy-washyness had subsided and I thought about riding my bike for the first time since warming up for the race, before the headache set in. Then I got a case of the “you sucks” and “you blew its.” So, in an effort to cure my bruised ego, I set out on a road ride to find my wife who was out riding with friends.
I’ve got great friends. After stewing by myself for 45 minutes, I found ‘em riding along the river on Kentucky’s Route 8. Aside from the initial ribbing, they gave me what I came looking for: sympathy and reassurances that in-fact I don’t suck. Then, I added coffee and/or caffiene to my pre-race checklist.