I keep forgetting to write race reports. One reason is because I am psychologically blocked from the hate mail I received from my last report. I only mention this to bring whoever’s missed out on this debacle up-to-speed. It was only one piece of hate mail, but she was apparently representing a number of riders. And since that one post received over 400 hits in one day, I confess that I’ve been a paranoid since, but it’s getting better. For those who’ve missed it, it was the report where I claimed that Laurie and I are two of the best blockers in the peloton, assuming, wrongfully, that others would see the intended humor in such a statement. I believe that a few people felt that this was honest conceit. I deep down believe that they are jealous, like, you wish you could block like me, but anyway, it scares me that people think my ego is out of control. I’m so much better at other things. Wait ’til I write my race report on feet-first sculling. But is it bragging when it’s true? Stay tuned.
Moving right along, Laurie said she was doing a criterium in Pleasanton. That’s my home town, and my folks and sister live a mile a way. I debated calling them, and waited until thirty minutes before the race’s start before I finally caved in to the pressure.
This was risky. What if they actually came? Then what would I do. But I had to do it, to clear my conscience. At least I could tell myself that I had reached out to them. And if they couldn’t make it, well, obviously, they had other things to do, oh darn.
I can’t say they’ve been that excited of any of my athletic endeavors, least of all bike racing. My father still harangs me for not having ever earned that swim scholarship, that I would, God forbid, swim for four years because I actually liked it. My family came to one college swim meet, and when I explained to my father that the reason why they were still swimming is because it was a 500 yard freestyle, and they had 18 laps to go, his only words were, “Good grief.”
I also have hundreds of photos from soccer games, all of other blond girls and only one of me, because I guess my dad didn’t want to accept that the girl flailing around on the grass was actually his own daughter.
I sometimes wonder if this was all some suble message to me to consider other avenues, but I believe all children find ways to rebel, eventually. I tried shaving off all my hair, wearing black, and listening to dark music on my Sony Walkman. The kind that played cassettes, if you really need to know. Okay, it was the Beatles. I can’t stand dark music. But my folks didn’t know what I was listening to. None of it worked. I couldn’t phase them.
But swim everyday? Even on Saturday? This started to get to them. Especially the 4:30 a.m. workouts. Bike racing has pushed the envelope even more.
“When are you going to do something normal and drive around orange traffic cones,” my mom always says. Salt in the wound, salt in the wound. But I know I’m getting to her.
But please don’t come to this race.
No, please don’t come, not when I’m dangling off the back. I was going to call that blocking, but why kill the joke.
Halfway through the race, I thought I was safe, and then I heard a sound I hadn’t heard in twenty years. It was my mom, cheering for me near the start/finish.
Oh no. This means they’re here, I realized. I’ve GOT to move up from last place, to prove to them that this is no joke.
I used my fear for motivation, bu with every turn, I’d pass by one person and get passed by three more.
I reasoned that this was some psychological ploy I was executing beyond even my own conscious control. Somehow, my legs would move me up on that last lap, to contend the sprint, in front of my mom and dad who drove a whole mile to be here.
I would win this race for them, and they’d run and embrace me and say, “We’ve always believed in you, Katie. It’s all just been a big misunderstanding.”
How was I to know that all the other 36 riders would vie for that exact same finishing position. I can’t stand that that’s how it’s always been, in every single race.
I limped through the finish, content to have passed one person, at least.
My dad was there with his camera around his neck, standing next to my mom, both with big smiles on their faces, beaming with pride. They could see how hard I tried, at least.
And that was enough. They do love me. They support me, after all, unconditionally. I realized it now, after all of these years.
It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.
“Oh,” said my dad, looking startled as I rolled up to him. “We thought another rider was you.”
It was awkward.
I looked to the bright side. “That’s cool,” I said. “Was she fast?”