So, injury has curtailed this 57 year-old debutant's first season as a bike racer. I'll be fit to compete before the season is over, but for various reasons my opportunities for racing will be limited, so I've been reflecting on what I've learned so far.
First, there's a big difference between being fit, and being race fit. Most of the time I have been in the races, but not really racing. I'm too near my ceiling just hanging with the bunch, and don't have the headroom to initiate anything or, often, to respond to the decisive moves.
Second, (and this is an extension of the first one) I'm FAT. Having got back into cycling, lost about 30lbs, and with a BMI of 25 become reasonably lean and fit compared with most of my age group, I got complacent about the weight and let it stall, settling at just over the 200lb mark. I have, belatedly, got below that, but at my current weight I'm 20% fat, and that simply isn't going to cut it when I already know I don't have power to burn. It's tough enough competing with the youngsters without giving them weight.
Third, my bike-handling still needs work. I'm not a bad bike-handler, but I'd got used to doing things at my own pace, and that's just not how it works in a race. I'm not comfortable enough with contact and I need to be more assertive in maintaining my position.
Knowing all this, and knowing how demanding it will be to address these issues, the question is whether I care enough to put in the necessary work? And the answer is yes, I do. Not because I will be left unfulfilled if I never win a race, but because I'd like to be as good as I can be; and racing, and training for racing, give a focus to and benchmark for that desire. And there's no denying that racing is exhilarating, and exhilaration is good for the middle-aged. Finally, I'd like to have go at time-trialling, it seems possible that it will suit me.
So I'm focussing on next season. It seems to me it isn't too early to do that, and to put together a robust training and nutrition plan that will ensure I get to next March, and the beginning of the new season, in decidedly better shape than I started this one. I'm optimistic. Knowing, now, what is required, and knowing that I'm close to being competitive despite having done so much wrong this time around, gives me hope.
I'll use this thread to record my progress, and maybe solicit some advice from time to time. Giving myself an obligation to post here will keep me honest during the winter days when having another beer might seem preferable to doing some intervals. LOL