You were set-up for failure and but disappointed is still the right word. You are all the usual shit people talk about when people talk about professional bicycle racers and their requisite qualities or attributes or whatever: fast, tenacious, young, committed, focused, etc. And not that it matters, even though it does matter, or should matter, and might one day matter, you are straight-up nice, and humble, and approachable, good stuff like that. You’ve been racing professionally for two years, and all of it, the whole time, nearly every race if not every race, has been ninety minutes long. And flat. That’s what you do. You race for ninety minutes on flat ground and you’re good at it. You maybe don’t win, in fact you rarely actually win, but you contribute, substantially, regularly. Dependably.
And still you’re in a silent team car on the way home from a not-crit-but-road race feeling disappointed, feeling like you let the team down, the managers down, your leader (Freddie Rodriguez) down, your mom down, your brother (also on the team) down and friends and God and the universe and the president, all down. And you’re driving home in a sensory deprivation tank of a car with nothing to think about, nothing to distract you, nothing to listen to except your thoughts, which thoughts suck but they’re your thoughts and they’re all you have because the radio is off and watching Greenville, South Carolina roll by doesn’t help either, so you think.
You think about accidentally making the split, when from 10th wheel you looked up at some point and the field was too small and the caravan was behind you and you were there, in a breakaway you didn’t plan, until the climb; you don’t train for climbs, you don’t race climbs, still though, you’re expected to climb—or are you? Are you expected to climb? It seems like you are, because you’re a cyclist and there’s a climb, but then again you never climb so why should you be good at climbs, especially a climb in a race like for example, the USA CYCLING PRO ROAD RACE CHAMPIONSHIPS—a climb after which you weren’t there, you were in No Man’s Land, so you sat up and got caught, and how it all happened again on the next lap, only this time you got shoved not just into the back but out the back, and how you took a water bottle from your DS who said in passing, both literally and metaphorically, and with no tone, no hints, no additional body language or information – “Nice work.” You’re Conor Mullervy and you had a shit day.
“I lasted an hour forty minutes and crits are the longest races I’d been in all year so I guess I can’t be too bummed on myself, but then again it just sucks. Not to know what Tad’s thinking is tough. It was just Tad, the mechanic and I and Tad didn’t say a single word all the way home. You’ve got no idea what he or the other managers are thinking.”