Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Racer Wakes at Dawn

I have been waiting for this day since November of last year - Frozen Flatlands.  Last year was not one of my best for efforts. I got really sick in late April which dragged into May. The road back to fitness was full of cobbled 20% grade climbs or so it seemed.  Around this time, my wife and I began to really take advantage of being empty nesters which only enhanced the falling off fitness cliff. By the time the frickin' freezing temps of Spokane hit in November, the play time that my wife and I enjoyed came to a major slow down and I began to think ahead to the race season for next year.  Frozen Flatlands is the first major race in this area and I was going to be ready. Or so I hoped.

Let me set the stage for the event that took me through a journey of both physical and mental anguish. The day before the 6 mile time trial and a 25 mile road race 3 hours apart, I contacted Rider 3 to ask him if he wouldn't mind if I borrowed his Corima wheels for the TT. Of course he agreed. Rider 3 is a hard working, sacrificing, cycling loving SOB and he wasn't using them. The Corima wheels are heavy, aero and perfect for a flat, windy and fast time trail. I installed them onto my 2002 Hairy Gary steel frame that night. I changed the cog set that Rider 3 had on them (12-26) to my 11-23. Why, you ask? Well, while setting up the bike that night I turned off Tour of Flander 2008 on my DVD player in my bike room, as it is known in my house, and turned on the Weather Channel. Yep, pretty geeky of me huh? Well poo to you with knobs on. Well the Weather Channel was predicting10 to 20 mph winds from the southwest with rain. That means that we would be starting the TT with the teeth of the wind at our faces. Perfect, I thought.  It is an out and back TT course with the wind at our backs for the last 3 miles.  An eleven tooth cog will be a must for my gear-grinding ass.
It was hard to go to sleep that night.  Did I have everything?  Did I make the right decision on the bike and wheel selection?  Did I eat the right things? Will the fact that my wife and I enjoyed 2 bottles of wine to celebrate our marital union have an effect on me tomorrow? Well, at my TT start time of 9:04 in the morning on Saturday April 2, I was going to find out the answers to the these questions.

The alarm went off at 5:00 am. I didn't need to wake up at that time. It was just that drifting off to sleep after our celebration the previous night I had forgotten to change the time on the alarm clock from my work week time.  It should have been set for 7:00am. So.................

The rider wakes at dawn.  He puts his slippers on.  He walks down the hall and says to himself, why did I set the alarm wrong? He staggers into the kitchen and turns the lights on. He rubs his eyes to adjust to the brightness. It's only 5 in the morning, can that be right?  I can't go back to bed. I'll never be able to fall asleep either way.  I worry that at the race I'm going to feel dead.  He puts bread in the toaster and pushes down the slider.  He thinks to himself, how will I do? Can I redeem myself as a rider?  He consumes his breakfast as though it was his last. Turning on the TV and sees the weather report that says it going to be pissing rain. Oh this is going to be a blast. He gets a text from a friend. "It looks like crap weather for you," it said, "I think if I were you, I'd stay in bed."  "That's where you are wrong," he texts back. I commute year-round in this junk. I'm not going to give up because of some rain. 

Loading up his car to head to the race his heart started to pick up pace. He arrived at the start. He feels pressure in his bowels. Boy am I nervous, he thinks.  He sprints to the port-o-potty at the last minute.  He starts thinking of the efforts of his upcoming endeavor. It should be very calculated to a precise measure. The start time was very near for our man. It was 9:02, just 2 minutes to show time. The starter counts down to one. Off he went, not quite as fast as a bullet from a gun. Stay calm, stay steady. Don't panic. Chase your minute man as though he is a gorgeous Betty. Head down and hands in the drops. His feet are cold from the rain, they are soaked. This only inspires him to push harder. For he has Belgian feet, cold and wet. No one likes this, no one, he bets.  At the turn around he sees his minute man, his minute man is loosing time.  His minute man digs deep for he doesn't not want to be caught because in the cycling world that is a crime. On the way back the rider feels the wind at his back.  This is the time, this is the time to put on a full attack. He drops it into his biggest gear. The pain of effort hits him from his frozen toes to his rain soaked rear. He is getting closer to his prey. But he won't achieve his goal, not on this day. The rider wanted  to catch his minute man but to no avail.   He knew he did his best because when he crossed the line he felt like hell. Holding his head high he was proud of what he did. Whether he was first in his group or somewhere in the mid. He soft peddled to his car to get changed.  Some dry clothes for the road race were needed. 

Third place is where our man ended up.  It would have been better to catch the minute man, but third place is respectable, maybe laudable.  Either way it set the stage for the next race, which was a scant few hours away.  Twenty-five miles more to race today and fifty tomorrow.  A long day already and more to come.

Rider 2

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