This is not to say that I don't plan. Going back to the investment example, I chose good investments that are consistent with my objectives and trust that continuing to invest and letting them grow--without undue interference--will eventually pay off.
Unfortunately, this approach does not work so well for me when it comes to bike races. I plan, I prepare, I try to have everything that can be done, done, so that come race time, all I have to think about is the race. I guess it's this "thinking about the race" part that trips me up. Following, in no particular order, are things I am worried about at Lotoja:
- Back spasms: Since Tuesday, I've been to physical therapy three times, the chiropractor twice, and have faithfully taken my prescriptions on schedule. Nevertheless, my back still hurts. A lot. I felt OK on a stationary bike at PT this morning, but the last time I rode a real bike was Tuesday. It was painful. Not sure I'll even make it past the neutral rollout.
- Chest congestion: as if the back weren't enough, I'm still not completely cleared up from my cold last week. And breathing is kind of important in a bike race.
- Mechanicals: Flats could happen any time--will the wheel car be there? I always replace my chains as soon as they are worn. Measured mine last night, and I just barely got the gauge in on the .75% worn side. Will my chain fail?
- Cheaters: Lotoja is a weird race in that there are so many groups going off so frequently that you're constantly crossing over people from other start waves. The rules state that you can only work with people from your group, but this is rarely heeded. From what I've been told, last year's top two in Cat. 4, a couple guys from Logan Race Club, attacked during a pee break. While this is considered exceptionally bad form, it's not illegal. But it's highly unlikely they soloed 140 miles from there to take the victory. It's more likely they latched onto other waves and didn't deserve the win. Needless to say, race numbers 769 and 729 will be watched closely this year.
- Nutrition: I have a good sense for what I can and can't eat and what I need to eat during a race. But getting it down and keeping it down is not a given.
- Fitness: If you would have asked me two weeks ago, I would have told you the fitness was there and I was ready to race. Between the cold and the back, I've been on two real rides in the last two weeks. Tapering is one thing, doing pretty much nothing is quite another.
The first time I did Lotoja, it was to see if I could do it, it was the only race I did all year, and I'd hardly say I raced it. The second time I wanted to go faster, and while I finished top ten in my group, I was thinking more about the clock than placing. But now, it's like every other race--I'm racing to see how high I can place. It's no harder or easier to win Lotoja than to win any other race, so why not skip it, save the money, and do more UCA and I-Cup events instead?