Shitty! I haven't the words to express how I feel except shitty.
I know this was suppose to be a learning year - and I have.
I know I was suppose to look to 2010 for applying what I learned - and I am.
But what just happened on Mt. Hood in the OBRA Hillclimb Championships a few hours ago is going to stick in my mind and legs and lungs and heart for a year.
This - not giving it my all against the clock - will never happen again!
I'm really angry at myself. I haven't been this angry at myself in...? ... I don't know how long, but years.
Frankly - 28:58 sucks! It's the first lie. It lies about what I am capable of. I love climbing. I take enormous joy in going up things fast. It's not about beating others - its about going up hills fast. It's a relationship I have with roads that tilt skyward. Climbing is different than all other things we do on a bike. Some cyclists hurt on hills and hate them. Some simply avoid them. Some accept they are there and do what they must to get over them and move on. But I love hills. I love steep hills - those double-digit inclines that pop riders, physically and mentally. I love when the lungs and legs hurt and the head creates the illusion and then magically you begin to spin and then float upwards. There is an incredible beauty to climbing.
Today I got sucked into chasing other cyclists rather than the clock. It was my girlfriend Jenn who had to point out that out - "Do you think you were fooled into thinking you were going faster than you were because you were passing people?" Ya, I blew it. Picking off 5,6 or 7 other riders was not the point. This was the "race of truth" and somewhere along West Leg Road I began lying to myself.
Racing against the clock is about the clock - period. I missed starting my stopwatch and was riding without time - just chasing down rabbits - unfortunately rabbits come in two types, bunnies and hares. Today I needed hares, and that's never going to be a guarantee so focus only the only certainty - the CLOCK.
The Hillclimb was also about learning where limits are - or not - I still am not certain where mine are. Earlier in the season my friend Scott Powell said at some point you just have to take yourself into the 'red zone' and blow up - that way you know where it is. Blowing up on a climb is a huge fear factor - especially for someone who likes to climb, takes joy and pride in climbing. The image of one's self paperboying it up to the finish line - or even worse, not being able to pedal at all - keeps you from venturing too close to the unknown. But the reallity is the unknown may be much much further away from anything I know now and as a consequence I have know clue where my limits are. At some point I need to go there - the sooner the better - then all of this will have perspective - and the fun will return.
This "shitty" feeling will last for a while, through the winter in the rain on the road training, in the spring when races renew, every time the road tilts up in May, June and July, and finally a year from now, at the starting line of the Hillclimbing Championship.
And finally, my congrats to two guys, first David Zimbelman - 25:42 - in the 55-59 group is stink'n amazing, you are an inspiration! And to Scott Seaton congratulations as well - nice climb, and more important, you are a really nice guy. I appreciated your new friendship at Elkhorn and today a top the mountain. I also appreciate the fact that you were the first to come congratulate me when you thought I had won ahead of you - class - you showed a lot of class. I hope I can extend the same class to you and others in 2010.