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July 13, 2006

Seems like yesterday I was layering up to race the crits at Parkside, and now my Superweek has already come and mostly gone. Three days, three road races, three mediocre results: 12th, 19th, 26th.

As usual I wasted too much energy on early breaks -- "Never again!" I promised after each attack, 24 hours if not 24 seconds before launching or chasing one again -- but in at least two of the races some late sacrifices helped teammates get well-deserved placements in the top 10, so I'm not totally disappointed.

The feelings of burnout I wrote about earlier haven't receded. When I finish one race I'm not immediately counting the hours to the next one. It could be related to performance: I had five top 10's by Memorial Day but have had only one since. Maybe I peaked too early? Maybe I loaded the early season with easy races? Maybe I was never as good as I thought I was?

I have probably done the season's last road race. All that are left are the criteriums of August, where because of upcoming travels and my longstanding aversion to crits, I expect I'll be racing mostly to keep teammates company.

Lately I've been having flashbacks to all the base training I did this year. Riding the fixie to Highland Park in the dead of winter. The January alley cats. Watching the entire Super Bowl on the trainer. Riding the lakefront one Wednesday morning and seeing trees burdened with icicles. That epic 5-hour ride through the rain with Ed and Bob.

All that hard work, and I can't do better than 26th? And in four months I'll have to not only do it all over again but, if I hope to improve, do more of it?

The chatter in the carpool this week has been about when we should upgrade to Cat 3. I can't do it on points, but I can on virtue of having 20 pack finishes, sort of like the booby prize for someone who has bought 20 losing lottery tickets.

I don't think Cat 3 will be significantly harder, but Cat 4 is fun. I'm enjoying lining up and knowing I have a decent chance at success, recent results notwithstanding, and I want another crack at winning certain races, Baraboo and Snake Alley in particular. I also like having as many as 20 teammates in a race; I'd be lucky to have four in any given Cat 3 race. On the other hand, Cat 3 races would be smoother, and, I am told, the teamwork is more organized and consequential.

Be a good Cat 4, or an average Cat 3? Good thing winter will be here soon. I'll need all that trainer time to meditate on my decision.

Photo taken: July 11, 2006