The end of the first practice session leaves me in a clammy sweat with my brain cramping. For some stupid reason I came to Road Atlanta expecting to do very well, possibly even win a race or two. After six laps around the track I decide if I manage to NOT fall on my ass this weekend that will be a success. My dwindling intellect seems unable to comprehend the actions necessary to put in anything but a horribly slow, mistake filled lap. Self doubt oozes out my pores with the perspiration as I await the second, and final practice session.
The key is not to overthink, and yet not underthink what you are doing. At this point I am probably doing both, thinking too much about things that simply do not matter and not enough about the ones that do. Maybe it's the heat, maybe the lack of sleep. Maybe there are lots of excuses. Maybe it's just time to put on the big boy pants and do what I came here to do.
I roll out in the second practice session confident that I at least know which way the racetrack goes, for the most part. I catch a group of riders and let them tow me around for a few laps. As my mind adapts, prepares and predicts, I find these riders holding me up. I start to pick them off, one by one and I enter a realm where the rider, bike and track mesh into that exquisite, elusive experience. My mind is working, making decisions, causing things to happen, but I am not aware of it. I am only cognizant of a few things during these moments:
1. I am going fast.
2. I cannot die.
3. I am going to go faster.
The checkered flag signifies the end of the session. It's a manic transformation from my mood earlier in the morning, but hey, if you want peaks, you gotta accept the valleys....