Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Humility Sucks

I finally made my way to Marseille center and immediately knew I would never return. It was mostly a dirty run down city with one little touristy section that looked like any other touristy section of a harbor town. Now i see why Sandrine and Olivier live 5km above town. Their house is in a beautiful picturesque area where I must fight the urge to take out the camera after every turn in the road. Not once did i think to pull out the camera while riding around the city streets. BUT aside from the actual city, that region of France is absolutely divine.

Last saturday, I tagged along with the Wojcik Club out of the Marseille Region for a short drive to Pujols (near Agen) for another French Cup. After six hours, we were there. I am still amazed by how large France is. It reminds me of my first ignorant thoughts of Belgium. I couldn't believe that a country could be so small that a three-hour drive could take you from one end to the other.

After a pre-ride with the Wojciks, my teammate Christel retrieved me and brought me back to the Pruneaux D'Agen sleeping quarters. They were dormitory style accommodations that house traveling athletic teams. Within two minutes of arriving, i noticed that i was the only one without my team race bike (it needed a some mechanical work so i opted to bring the training bike instead.) When i saw how upset my team manager was, i immediately realized i must have misread one of the french emails that must have said the team will all ride on the new bikes this weekend. I couldn't have felt any worse...or so i thought until the race the next day.

The Pujols French Cup consisted of 5 laps of about 17km each with one extended climb that starts off semi-gradual at a 7-8% gradient, then steps up to about 13% towards the top. The race started off a bit nervous, everyone fighting for the first few rows. When there are 115 starters, not everyone can fit. Clearly there were a lot of people who didn't ace math.

Unfortunately since i did ace math, I was a little too far back on the climb. When it split, I was on the wrong end. Normally this would not be too much of a problem because on the climbs i can do a decent job of working my way up the field. But not yesterday. I had no power. Nothing. Not on the climbs, not on the flats. Just like last week's race. Only on the descents could i fly - but that only has to do with my sinewy body's aerodynamic position - no fitness needed. There are few experiences more frustrating than to watch obvious non-climbers kick my ass on the climbs and non-flatlanders make me hurt on the flats.

And just when i am thinking the day cannot get any worse, my chain falls off at the base of the climb. A couple of gals tried to push me while i got it back on but to no avail. So I got off the bike to fix it. Yeah, chasing back onto the group was not the most pleasurable experience but at least it took my mind off of the dejection I was feeling.

After the race, I rode over to a secluded lookout point to take a few moments to reflect on what the _ _ _ _ just happened. I do know that my injuries are not healed yet from the nasty crash two weeks ago(ie. my calf still hangs over my sock like a beer gut over a belt buckle and a few of the wounds have still not closed. The tweaked back is better but not normal yet.) But since i am a cyclist, i am in denial about how something as trivial as an injury can slow me down. So i spent the next few moments thinking of every rare ailment I could possibly have. Since i've done a lot of research on the body and nutrition, my thoughts are instantly filled with about twenty various debilitating viruses, diseases and abnormalities I could have. Knowledge is not always a good thing.

In reality, though, I know that i just need to relax about it and I will be back to myself soon enough. In the meantime I will continue to do everything right - eat well, train hard yet effectively, clean my bike, no socializing and stay off my feet.

What upsets me most is not that I let myself down or embarrassed myself out there but that I let my team down. I have always been a team player, sacrificing myself for the benefit of the team, making things happen for the team. And when i cannot do this, it breaks my heart. Yeah, call me a sap but there is nothing finer than to be part of a team that accomplishes great feats through working together. Even in my off-the-back little group, i worked with my teammate Melodie at the front to keep it moving, while offering her food and water periodically.

I am writing you now from Gap, France _ a quaint mountain town in the middle of nowhere. A gal named Mimi (FYI Paul, geWilli, et al - she too is a hottie) from the Wocjik club is hosting me. I was originally supposed to go back to Tiina's house this week but her boyfriend Jussi came back from Pays Basque early since he was sick. And with tiina also hosting another gal from Finland there was not enough room for me. Thankfully Mimi took me in. We will stay here until Thursday when we drive to Ladies Berry Classic (2-day stage race) on the other side of France. The highway tolls are so high here that we are extending our trip by six hours - 12 hours instead of 6 - so that we can take the local roads and save money. Yes, brutal. But I chose this life - for better and for worse.

My first ride here was great. I slowly piano'd up a hill to get a better view of the town. Gorgeous. Then i rode around the center to suss out the location of bio (organic) shops, vegetarian restaurants, and bike shops. This evening i will take the bike to the shop to get it fixed for this weekend's races.

I have dial-up internet here so i should be able to start posting again regularly.

Top photo is of a typical house in the Marseille region, second is house of sandrine's parents who grow grapes for a living, next is of mont vontoux (i am sure i completely misspelled it. The mountain is not really visible in the photo but use your imagination. It is the white dot at top of photo.) Then there is Marseille's drinking water and a random lady walking her fru-fru dog while holding an orange handbag ornamented with an oversized plastic flower. Our travel-mobiles, deep thoughts by 'peanut handy' and the ubiquitous action shot.

Thanks again for reading!!!!!


gewilli said...

You'll be kicking ass in no time.

Heck - how many of the women there in the field spent the whole fall and winter kicking ass and racing Cross?


How much down time have you had away from the bike?

Don't be so hard on yourself! But know that ya got fans and supporters - we'll be there for you no matter where you place in the race!

Anonymous said...

take it easy and enjoy the life!

you are an inspiration...keep chugging along!

PEANUT said...

You guys are too sweet. Now you've done it - my mascara is running...

PEANUT said...

But seriously, thqnks!

norcalcyclingnews.com said...


every day, build.

it's such a joy!

Chris said...


Paul Tay said...

I've learned that when the motor got no power, it's trying to tell me SUMTHIN'. If ya don't read the guages carefully, it just might blow a piston, maybe two.

Merkeley Bike said...

I crashed a couple of times last season. It took a long time to feel 'normal' again. Hang in there, it'll come soon enough.

Which training plan calls for 'no socializing'? Or am I being too literal?

Anonymous said...

La 5ème photo: les remparts d'Avignon surement.
Très bon séjour chez nous christine, c'est la bonne époque en plus! ;-)

Anonymous said...

Great post Peanut.

Anonymous said...

Too literal, Merkeley. Like any other athlete Peanut is (I am informed by close sources) permitted to socialize as long as she's in bed by half-past seven, drifting off to the pages of her Trollope, while Papa Haydn's Last Sonatas waft in from . . . her iPod.
-- E.C. Chamberlain

gewilli said...

I don't think it is a matter of what time she goes to sleep - it is more of a time of how long will she stay in bed...


who said it? (regarding socializing)
"It isn't that sex before racing is bad. It is how hard you have to seek it out that can be bad."

or some variation of that...

because after all what else is socializing than foreplay?

(trying to get peanut to think about something other than bike racing and serious stuff)

PEANUT said...

HAHAHAHAHA!! Gewilli, you surely got my mind off of bike racing for a moment there.

Rochiettois - absolument, il est les remparts d'Avignon.

Merkeley: I had one week off this year and I spent the time wisely - socializing, as gewilli put it.

Jeff said...

I just stumbled across your blog -- It's fantastic!

Anonymous said...

wahh first time you write in French ...
We say : CE SONT les remparts

PEANUT said...

Bonjour Adeline:
Avec amour,
ps. How was my french?

PEANUT said...

thanks for all the great comments! I kept them all in mind last week and stayed mentally strong for the weekend - and they helped! I felt better this weekend - both physically and mentally.
I will continue to build, build, build...