I will begin this entry about my last few races by stating that I have never raced in as much rain in Central Park as I did on Saturday. The rain began as a sprinkle as we waited on the start line and then built into a consistent downpour shortly after. After that, the rain stayed for the rest of the race. If it ebbed or slower, I did not notice, because I was too preoccupied with wiping, removing and then trying my glasses back on. None of these vision related tricks were effective. When worn, the lenses of my glasses were blurred by rain drops and fog, which gave the sensation of racing through a Monet painting. If I removed my glasses, my face was aqua-blasted by the tire spray of riders in front of me, which prompted me to ride slightly aside the optimal draft position of anyone ahead of me, as to not spend my morning drinking the liquid combination of the fluids deposited on the road by cars and the horse dung and urine left behind by the carriages tugging tourists through the lower loop of the park. I guess I should take solace in the fact that the temperature at the start of the race was near seventy degrees—which meant that conditions weren’t hypothermic—so we raced in conditions that were akin to riding through a mist of warm urine.
Personally, I came in to the race with a feeling of optimism. In my previous two race outings (mentioned here to fulfill the contract with the voices in my head that stipulate I write about every race I participate in), I had been able to contribute in a park race and I was feeling frisky enough at Rockleigh to roll off the front for a few moments of solo glory. I carried the confidence (and fatigue) of an enjoyable Thursday night into Saturday’s race. In our category three race, Team Rockstar had a squad of six that included newly upgraded teammate Kim, who would begin his cat three racing career riding through the aforementioned urine mist. Our plan was to attack, because sprinting is something other teams do. We pushed off into the wall of waiting water and began racing. Attacks and chases and counters and other race-type things happened—I was even off the front of the race by myself for about a half lap.
This is where I should mention that I am no longer a desirable breakaway companion. I have come to this conclusion through an exhaustive (literally) series of tests—I jump away from the pack and no one is at all interested in joining me in flailing about ahead of the rest of the bike herd. I must face facts here, the sight of my backside off the front does not entice anyone to join me. At all. My milkshake does not bring anyone to the yard. This circumstance dictates a change in both attitude and strategy on my part. I will not be attacking on lap one and staying away for a solo victory. This situation has probably been evident to almost everyone except me. I have been slow to come around to the fact of my slowness.
Depressing assessment of my personal slowness aside, my kitten-like attack served to soften up no one except me. I re-joined the pack and rolled around trying to breathe with my mouth closed and see with my eyes squinted nearly shut. I cursed the rain. I descended timidly. I no longer cared about keeping in contact with the group. I gave up.
Normally when I encounter a setback, I use my skills of delusion to conjure an array of excuses to create a narrative that doesn’t cast me as a slow and old person. I have been trying very hard during this journal entry to pull that rabbit of misplaced optimism out of the hat of despair, but as of yet, I haven’t been successful. I am confident that I will once again convince myself that I am a tolerably competent bike racer. It will take time and it will probably nearly drain all of my delusional reserves, but I think if I adjust my tactics, I may find success. Perhaps if I attack from the very start of the race…