Bike racing takes a crazy amount of focus. It is one of the best things about racing for me. You get into the zone and there isn’t room for your other life issues, it is only about racing for that short period of time. If you can’t attain that type of focus, it is nearly impossible to do well. Last weekend in the Louisville Criterium, I showed up pretty distracted and couldn’t get into the race. I was relaxed and confident in my fitness (at about 85%), although this race is SUPER hard for me with a longish hill for a criterium. I have never done well there, but I have finished 17th-25th or so in the P12 field in the past. The race had over 80 riders and that also gave me some reassurance I could find good wheels to follow. There were several Pro teams represented with Bissell, Exergy, Jelly Belly, Garmin, and Wonderful Pistachios. I was in the middle of the race for the first couple of laps and the pace was high. But I felt pretty good about it and didn’t have any big worries yet. Hard, but not crazy hard. There was a surge up a side and I ended up further back that I would have liked after the 2nd lap. This is where the focus issue came up. Instead of hearing alarm bells in my head, I just figured it was early in the race and no big deal. I got stuck behind a couple of questionable riders and made an effort to stay clear of them. (Holes in a riders shorts this early into the season is always a sure sign your may want to find another wheel.) As the pace kept up on the climb I started having to come around riders getting gapped. Again, alarm bells were not going too big yet, although making up gaps on the headwind climb was pretty difficult. I felt around mid/back pack and was sure that I would have at least 10 guys come around me to bring me up if the gaps got crazy. Then the gaps got crazy and I had my teammate give me a pull up once. Next lap, no one is there. I was the LAST guy in the race. This is pretty rare for me and I was almost shocked. How the heck did I end up last and where is the rest of the race? I cracked. I just couldn’t keep making gaps at that pace on the climb. I got straight, cold dropped about ½ way into the race. (Afterwards, looking at results, it seems about 20 people got dropped in the first few laps of the race.) I chased around for a few laps just get a workout in and watched the rest of the race with my family. It was a sour feeling to see my teammates ride a great race and be in position to do well, but not be able to help out. They deserved support and I was not pleased that I wasn’t there for them. To keep things positive, I seem to have 1 or 2 races a year like this. Having this kind of wake up call in March can be a good thing. I know I’ll have my head in the game in the next race for sure.