Like a noobe sausage factory worker who leans a bit too far into the auger to see how it works, I’ve gone and done something I’m probably not ready for…I’ve registered to skate the 2011 USARS Road Championships. WTF was I thinking???
I could rattle off a half-dozen or so reasons (future excuses) as to why I’m not ready for this. And that’s what ima gone do…
One: and it’s not the least of all my reasons. It’s the impressive “Body by Five Guys” figure I cut in my skin suit.
Being 10 lbs. over my race weight is usually where I’m at when the training season starts, not when race day arrives. But wait a minute…the longest race I’m going to skate is the 5,000 meter points race. I’ve been skating 26.2 miles pretty damn near where I was at the beginning of the season time-wise, so I haven’t lost much time or cardio-response with the extra poundage. And I was able to size up my competition yesterday when we went down to the 7-11 Velodrome in Colorado Springs to watch the 300m time trials. Most of the field is physically larger than I am. So I probably shouldn’t worry about the extra baggage slowing me down. Maybe the extra weight will help even the odds a little when the bumpin’ and bangin’ starts. Hmmmm…that’s a fine way to justify poor dietary choices, eh?
Two, or “too” as in “also,” I haven’t really been training for this. Yes, I’ve been skating but I’ve never skated a closed-course road race before. Or is it called a criterium? Honestly, I haven’t a clue. Nonetheless, I haven’t trained specifically for this type of racing. But does that matter? What I know is that we’re skating on a 1/4 mile oval in the infield of the Pikes Peak International Speedway. It’s a wide oval on asphalt. Oh…so wait. I’ve been training indoor and skating the trail. Hmmmm…sounds like I can’t use this as an excuse either.
Thirdly, what the hell is a sunrise start? I mean really. I’ve never even really tried a standing time trial start (for real) till two weeks ago when I went to a practice with a couple of new friends from Synergy Racing. And at that point, I wasn’t planning on skating these races, so I haven’t really been practicing what I learned since then. And as the video above shows, I’ve forgotten a few steps in the set up process. I got as far as what I’d call a Slugrise. Talk about bad form. Oh…but wait. I’ve actually had a little time to practice this since last Thursday when this decision to race was made, and at least I know there are six points I need to cover before I decide it’s time to go. Hmmmm…other then getting a deep outside edge on my left skate when I’m in wind up, I’m a lot more comfortable with this very awkward contortion. This will be a challenge to do well, but that’s more than half the fun I keep telling myself.
Then there’s number four. The distances aren’t something I’ve ever been serious about: 200m Time Trial; 500m, 1,500m and a 5,000m. When I go out to skate I just pound it out. The shortest distance I’ve trained with any consistency for is a 10k. What do I know of these distances? Zip. Nothing. Butttt…a quick check at MetricConversionForUSAmatureAthletes.com says 5,000m is just about 3.1 miles. That’s just about 2 laps around my neighborhood. And there won’t be any hills. Hmmmm…there goes another excuse I can’t leverage.
Five: there’s the field. A bunch of seasoned pros who’ve been doing this far longer than I’ve even known that wheels were measured in millimeters. Guys like Jim Larson and Norm Kirby. I’m “friends” with both of them on Facebook, but I know them much better by the records they hold than their status updates. Then there’s Curt Labeda, the father of Hyper Wheels. Oi! And it looks like there are a couple of other skaters from South Florida in my division too. My son has skated against that team before, he tells me they’re tough. I know there’s a lot of world-class talent that’s come from that team. Well…I can’t think of a better way to start a new discipline than skating with the best.
That leads me to six, but that said, I think I’m falling short of excuses. All these things are really turning out to be somewhat positive. I mean, I’ve even got the right wheels. Two sets. Guess I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.
Honestly, when Horseypants brought this up late last Thursday, I didn’t think it was something I could do. I don’t know why. I’d just set my mind to not racing this year. Since I’d decided not to make the annual September pilgrimage to Duluth about two months ago, I’ve focused my energy on learning Short Track and preparing to compete indoor on inlines in 2012. But Horseypants helped me to see that it would be silly for me not to go and get the experience. To just have fun. To take advantage of the fact that these are actual races here in CO that I can skate. (Something I’m forever bitching about.) That my family can come watch and actually see me on the course, not just at the finish line. They’re stoked to be my “pit crew.” They’ve been making sure I do two-a-days since Friday morning! Yeah, I’d really be a real (speed)weenie if I didn’t go…so it’s official then. The most righteous folks at USARS have carded me and allowed me late entry. So I’ll be there on Wednesday, ready to go. And it’s all thanks to the love, encouragement and support of my wonderful wife and mostest totally awesomest kids. I’m the luckiest loser I know.
I’ve got to admit, the chance to indulge my passion in my own backyard with a bunch of other skinsuit clad skaters who’ve brought their A-game to our great state to do this thing we do is exciting! Really. I’ve got butterflies. Sitting in the stands yesterday, watching the action, I wanted to bail out a dozen times. Nerves of jelly, baby. But at the same time, and about two dozen more times, I was wishing I’d attended the banked track clinic so I could have been out there in the Velodrome gettin’ all parabolic up in the s#$%!
Whatever happens on Wednesday, it’s gonna be fun. And hell, as my nom-de-plume goes, I’ve really got nothing to lose, do I? Nope, no weaseling my way out of it now. I’m a Weasel no more. This really has been a year of mixing it up and doing things differently when it comes to inline speed skating. Uh-huh, yeah. I think I like it.