As I headed east, the weather mellowed, and by mellowed I mean it stopped snowing. The temperatures were still less than ideal. Watching the Pro's in Europe battle the elements makes for entertaining reading and viewing. Being a Cat 4 with a day job . . . not so entertaining.
When I arrived I was less than pumped to race. Somehow my mind had blocked out the my previous Albany races and the furious pace at which they start. Either I blocked it out, or I'm an idiot. Probably the latter. Definitely the latter. Anyway, I skipped my warmup because the only place it was truly warm was in my car. 29-32 degrees for a 'cross race? You bet. For a road race? Wait what, I don't even like road racing.
Anyway, to lengthen the list of stupid things I did that day, I also wore a new pair of winter tights that I'd never worn before. Of all of the dumb things I did that day, this was the dumbest. Really dumb. Eating a Big Mac two minutes before the race would have been far less dumb. Poking Mike Tyson in the eye would have been less dumb. Poking Mike Tyson's wife while he was pulling into the driveway would have been less dumb.
So, the race starts and I immediately remember how hard these races are. I'm instantly aware of what a bad idea it was to skip a warm-up. Seven minutes in and the race goes hard, a dude crashes equally hard behind me, and 45 seconds later I'm off of the back. So much for a long winter on the trainer.
All isn't lost, I've been dropped before. I know what my future looks like. I'm doomed to ride with 8-10 other "dropped" riders for the rest of the race. No problem. Heck I'm an expert at that. I'll just try to ignore the guy screaming at everyone to pull. Ignore the fact that he keeps yelling which side we should rotate to. I'll ignore the jerk that dangles toward the back refusing to take a pull. I'll ignore the fact that this ain't 'cross! What is it that I can't ignore? Excellent question. If you're still reading, I'm glad you asked.
I like to think of myself as being pretty tough. I'm a little dude. Well, not little, but if I was standing next to Kate Moss, she wouldn't look unusually skinny. I spent my formative years lifting weights, consuming high calorie body building shakes, eating potato chips, bacon, and six packs of tacos from Taco Bell. I'm simply destined to be a scrawny dude. I don't exactly have a Napoleon complex, but I do tend of overcompensate, and being tougher than average and metabolizing pain is a point of pride.
When I watch a movie and some dude is being tortured, I like to think "I could take that." Well, that all changed for me in Albany. It's official, I can't hack it. Achilles had his Achilles, and I have mine. As it turns out, mine is . . . well, not my Achilles. How do I say this? It was my . . . tip of my junk? Weiner? Frank and beans? Hot dog? Johnson? I'm running out of euphemisms so I'll be blunt. Just after I completed the second lap, I started to notice that the cold in conjunction with my new tights had created what NASA described to Houston as "A Problem." The problem was that it felt as if someone was rubbing sandpaper on the tip of my . . . well I think I covered that already. Anyway, I tried to do some emergency rearranging. I started wondering if I had something in my jacket I could stuff down there to create a barrier. I started to wonder how long it would take to drive home if I turned around now. My first self induced DNF ever. It was then that I understood that I would never be able to keep our nations secrets to myself if I was tortured in that way. Waterboarding? Sounds like a ride at Disney! Cold weather, new kit and repeated scratching? I'll tell you everything I know. Heck if you need to see your target I'll drive. Pay for the gas? You bet.
Anyway, that's all I have to say about that. I've found my Achilles "insert euphemism here."