25 May 2006

SNAKE ALLEY

I've heard it said that the definition of clinical insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different outcome.

If that's the case, punch my ticket to Bellevue.

This weekend marks the 5-year anniversary since my first race as a licensed Cat. 5 -- the infamous Snake Alley. And year after year, I find myself returning, hoping against hope that things will be different ...

Actually, this year things are different. For the past two years, I've had team obligations to fulfill in Friday's road race, each year taking just a little bit of the edge off my legs for Saturday's suffer-fest. Before that, I was just clueless, plowing my way around the course with gearing that had no business being on my bike ...

This year, though, I'm ready. Snake is basically a 'cross race -- clip in as fast as you can, go like hell for as long as you can, and hang on in the end. There are no tactics, no strategies. That's why the field is as diverse as it is -- this year's start list includes road national champions, pro mountain bikers, and legends beyond their time. And this year, I'm better prepared than I've ever been.

But what's the point? I know I'll never be in the front group at Snake, I'm just a bit too big and a bit too under-powered. But this year, for the first time, I have a legitimate shot of making it into the money -- the coveted top 25 in a field that numbers more than 100. That's my "noble goal" for the weekend. I somehow managed to bully my way to 32nd last year, and if I take it easy in the road race, conserve and rest up, I know I can do better. It'll be a tall order, but I'm lighter than I was and far better prepared mentally. I'm also better rested, not having done a full spring campaign -- all that remains to be seen is whether I'm in as good a shape as I was 12 months ago. And you know what? If not, no worries. There's still four months to go ...

My favorite Snake memory was two years ago, the first time I raced in the Pro field. Jason McCartney, then racing for 7-Up, absolutely shredded the field -- I completed only 7 of the perscribed 20 laps of the race. Thing was, J-Mc had 2 minutes on second place, that early in the race -- I would have lasted at least to the halfway point if he hadn't been there. That's some serious power ... no wonder he was racing the Giro just a year later ...

This is last year's hurt, courtesy of Steve Daggs ...
ONLY 206 DAYS TO NATZ!!

1 comment:

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