There are two clear ways to look at today’s bicycle race.

It was a terrific race, and pretty much sucked completely.

Bill McLain, the impresario, put on a great race. It’s incredibly smooth and well organized, and Bill also throws in little touches that make it special – a catered picnic in the park after the race, a fun medal ceremony, nice-looking printed certificates for every rider who finishes (with your time emblazoned on the certificate down to the 100th of a second). This year he had a big cake in celebration of the race’s 20th anniversary. There were folks from all over the country who came to race.

But I’ve got to be frank – the time emblazoned on my certificate was a profound disappointment. I could blame the wind, I suppose, but what really happened is that I choked.

It’s a 40k time trial, straight out and back. The wind was light when I started, a cross/tailwind, mostly from the right (west) with a little behind. I couldn’t really get a feel for it, though, and didn’t realize how strong it was until I made the turn.

Wham. Right in my face. Over the first half of the course, I hadn’t really realized how much the wind had picked up, and when I turned to head back into it, it just left me demoralized. My speed was 22.4 miles per hour at the turn, which was a bit slower than my target but reasonable. I’d kept my heart rate locked into my target range and was riding comfortably. But when that headwind hit me it took the spirit out of me.

I remember reading a description of the difference between running a good marathon and a bad one – the bad one hurts just as much, but lasts a lot longer. That’s the way I felt today.