Los Cabos is my favorite race of the year. Not only has it been my traditional season-closer and therefore an important race to leave everything out there on the course, but it’s also the one true vacation that Adelaide and I take each year. If you can call a race-cation a true vacation. Which I can. Plus, I like Mexican food and the bike course. It was even better (hillier) this year than last.
But I’ve had bad races at Los Cabos almost every time I’ve done it. The first year I was just plain slow from my newly diagnosed and unmedicated Hashimoto’s. The second year I came into it with a hip injury and pulled out after one lap of the run. The third year, last year, I had an okay race given the circumstances—my stem came loose and my handlebars kept slipping sideways, requiring me to get off the bike twice, and baby the downhills. Then my lung cramping was incredibly bad on the bike and the run, a problem that I’ve mostly solved this season.
In keeping with the trend, this year sucked as well. It was the most disappointing race of the year, and possibly ever due to my extremely high expectations. Though, every bad race seems like the most disappointing race ever. I can’t tell anymore. I’m still not over this one, but wallowing in self pity has become trite. I’m not exactly sure what that word means but I think it works. Here are the series of events that lead to yet another shitty race that I didn’t finish:
- I got sick on Wednesday before the race with a cough, fever, body aches, and a headache. I spent all day in bed and most of the next day in bed or on the couch.
- Because of getting sick and then immediately having to travel, I took three full days off from training before the race, which closed my legs off quite a bit.
- Adelaide’s stem broke when we assembled her bike on Friday night. It was a late and stressful night buying a new one and assembling it, which was a huge pain in the ass and required taking the brake off and re- “threading” a finicky frayed brake cable because…triathlon bike. The next day we spent another hour adjusting her position because the stem angle and length was off, and adjusting her aero bars is a nightmare.
- The day before the race as we rode to drop our bikes off at T1, Adelaide flatted on a huge pothole in busy traffic. She walked back to the hotel while I rode, then I re-glued her tubular. We took a taxi to T1 with the bikes in the back. Our day of doing stupid pre-race shit and standing on our feet wasn’t over until 6:30PM.
- We woke up an hour late because neither of our alarms went off. Adelaide’s phone was on silent, and my phone is a fucking piece of shit, as everyone should know. We threw on our kits, grabbed our pre-packed bags, and ran out of the room. We grabbed a handful of pancakes and bananas on the way from breakfast, ran up the hill towards the main road, and flagged down the next passing bus. While we missed breakfast and our cortisol levels were spiked beyond a reasonable level at 5AM, we did get an extra hour of sleep, so there’s that at least.
- My bike Garmin wouldn’t turn on race-morning at T1. Not an ideal time for it to decide to be broken, although this wasn’t a huge deal.
- My swim was shit, because I, as a person, am shit. I was two minutes slower than last year despite being a stronger swimmer this year. I just couldn’t get any intensity going, and have since blamed it on not having done an actual swim workout since Tuesday.
- During the first 10 miles of the bike I passed a few guys and made ground on everyone except Sam Appleton, the eventual winner. But I was gaining ground more slowly than I thought I should be. I didn’t know what power I was doing, but I felt fatigued early on. I was doing a max effort to make contact with the main chase group and didn’t have enough breathe to get any food down. I began losing steam after half an hour, wondering if I’d be in the money at all, let alone on the podium as I had hoped. I suspect that if my pedal hadn’t fallen off, I would have eventually finished up in that main bike pack but it would have cost me on the run.
- My pedal fell off at around the half way point. I stopped and tried to twist it back in, but it had stripped out the crank arm. So I screamed and swore and threw it against a rock wall and relished my vengeance as it blew up into many pieces. After waiting for Adelaide to come by, I rode back to the hotel one-legged.
I haven’t had a pedal fall off ever, except on my old fixie about 12 years ago. And that was just due to all of the parts of that bike being cheap and 30 years old. Every time I re-assemble my bike for a race, I just hand-tighten my pedals and that’s worked out just fine. Except this time. Apparently, a semi-loose pedal can back itself out if you don’t use a tool. And it can strip the outer portion of the crank arm in the process. This is caused by coasting and rough roads, though I didn’t do very much coasting in those 20-odd miles. However, this is the only likely explanation that I can think of, and the only explanation that anyone has suggested.
I enjoyed the rest of that day watching Adelaide come in 9th, followed by drinks and body surfing, followed by more of the same. The next day and a half were great also. I can spend all day in the ocean getting slammed by waves without getting the slightest bit bored. Adelaide had a decent first race back, and the weather and food were great.
So the trip wasn’t a waste by any means. Especially since we met some cool people staying at our hotel who were new to racing and therefore super stoked just to be down there pushing their limits amongst the palm trees and enjoying the excitement of it. I seem to have lost this joy from racing. I think I lost it a long time ago, or maybe never had it to begin with. For better or worse, racing is more of a stress than enjoyment—until I cross the line, and assuming I’m happy with the result.
Racing is a financial stress because I’ve put more and more expectations into making money at each event because we’re going broke living this lifestyle and paying for these expensive trips. Racing is a guilt-driven “time stress” built upon the vast amount of energy and hours I put into the monotonous training that could be spent doing other things, like working or fostering a cocaine habit. Racing is an emotional stress caused by worrying that something unexpected will go wrong in my race or in Adelaide’s race. And most importantly, racing is an ego-driven stress since I place almost all of my self worth into my results and my training. The rest of my self-worth is derived from how much Maybellene, my dog, likes me. And currently, that department is lacking because she ran out of dog treats.
While it may be stressful, racing is what I live for. The build the, excitement, and the feeling of accomplishment makes it all worth while. It’s like living with painful genital herpes. The sex may be stressful and agonizing, but it’s still fun. I assume.
I don’t feel like making a good ending out of this. Just imagine I wrote something about staying positive, reflecting on the good fortunes of my life, and looking towards the next goal.
Challenge Baja in three weeks! La Quinta a week after that! Unlimited ice cream for a month after that!
Adelaide, followed by Spencer, one of our new friends, qualifying for 2019 Worlds while also enacting the most spectacular finish line celebration of the day.
Left to right: Betsy, Adelaide, me, Spencer, Tracey. I was only wearing pants because we were on our way to the airport.
Photos: Betsy Hartley