Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Springbank Road Race

Lesson number one: Don’t go into a race with already tired and sore legs. It’s going to end even worse than the usual bike race fail.

The photos in this post are courtesy of Jeremy Allen who is a mastermind behind the lens. He is at most of the local races stalking cyclists and capturing a certain "je ne sais quois" about bike racing that I've never seen in photos before.

Leading up to Sunday, let’s get a recap. Thursday night I rode a decent hilly route. Friday night I did hill repeats on the most soul crushing climb we have in our area. Saturday I took my friend out on a 90km tour. Why? Her coach demanded she do a ride this long and it was the farthest she’s ever ridden. She’s training for her first half ironman where the bike portion is 56miles (90km). We encountered headwinds and misery. We rode pretty darn slow but I’ll quote myself from after the race, “90km is still 90km no matter how easy it was.” I was surprised at the presence of the ache in my legs on Saturday night. Uh Oh. I stretched and rolled but no amount of praying to the gods I don’t believe in was going to save me from this one.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I fucking suck at bike racing. I’m not making up excuses for a shitty performance. I most definitely would have gotten dropped at some point, but not on the first lap. It’s almost laughable! Why even bother racing?? I don’t know. Seriously. I was still unsure if I was going the morning of. In the end, I knew it was going to be one of those “97% suffering, 3% enjoyment” kind of race. So I went and expected the outcome I got. I also wanted to shoot some pictures of the other races for fun.

Every time I get on the bike I feel like I’m setting myself up for embarrassment. 

(the "fucking hill" isn't in the right place but I did this in Paint so forgive me.)
The race was a 2.2km crit on a closed recreational trail. It was wide enough for two cars at some points and narrows down to two bikes at other points complete with curbs. It had a steep sharp corner downhill immediately after the start/finish line with a long back section that included a short uphill climb. The back section was a massive crushing headwind.
I started and pretty much got dropped in the first 100m. I didn’t trust the other riders on that corner and wasn’t prepared to throw myself in there off the shot so I thought I’d hang back. I got back on and then fell off again, got on, fell off. Before the first lap was over I was dropped along with another rider. I spent the next lap trying to catch her and when I did we worked together for a lap or two before I looked back and saw that she was gone. I wasn’t going to quit though. I wasn’t entirely bothered by this until I came through the start/finish line each time and just wanted to hide under a rock. I’m not easily embarrassed but being so obviously shitty on this particular day was demeaning me. If only the invisibility cloak existed in real life. 

The race went on. I got lapped. A girl who got dropped from the other field caught up to me and said, “Better to DFL than to take a DNF!”(*) This made me smile. Then I passed her, and then she passed me again. The final time I passed her I said, “it’s a shame we can’t work together!” She agreed. We were going the same speed but were in different categories so it would be a disqualification if we drafted off one another.
By the last time I came across that finish line I zipped off to the side and limped my way back to my car. I got changed in my front seat and promptly left without really talking to anyone. I didn’t photograph the other races because I just wanted to go home. I was shivering uncontrollably because my body was just wasted.

My blood sugar on the other hand was blissful this race. I started with a number that was in range. I Hoovered a couple shot blocks at the start line and didn't think or worry about it until the end. I was still in range at the end so overall that's a fucking diabetes racing WIN. (because you can't be DFL with diabetes). I think it helped that this race was at 11:30am instead of the usual earlier start ergo adding insult to injury with breakfasts and boluses on board. I think that given how short of a race this was (under an hour) it was in my (a type 1 diabetics) favour. Shorter races are easier to deal with because it takes longer to start really affecting blood sugar. I can't say the same for last year's version of this hellish race though.
It bothers me because I don’t enjoy always being DFL and yet I went into it with all arrows pointing at that. I felt embarrassed because I showed up and set myself up for disappointment. I knew it would end that way so why did I bother driving 1.5 hours both ways and spending $60 in registration to dig myself a hole? I’m still not sure. Maybe if I was super pro I could race on already tired legs but I’m not there at all. My only hope of a good race is fresh legs.

Look! Proof that I wasn't just riding a bike alone!
Ryan asked me later that night, “did you at least have fun?”. Most of the time I’d reply with a “yes” but this time I said “NO!”. No it wasn’t fun. My legs were in pain and my ego was butchered. I felt like I wasted money and time. 

At least I got to acquire some AMAZING photos that I will cherish forever.
*If you don’t know much about racing, DFL: Dead fucking last, DNF: Did not finish.


  1. I'm sure if I was there, I would be DFL. There is victory in the effort. Maybe it was harder for you to finish than it was for the winners to win. I wonder how they'd do if they had to handle everything you do every day. Congrats for finishing.

  2. Hi, great writeup and great pics. Does Jeremy Allen have a web page?

    1. He doesn't have a website but you might be able to find more info on his facebook page:


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