This is a follow-up to "The Racer Wakes at Dawn". No, I'm not going to write in the same "The Doors meets Dr. Suess without the acid" style of writing. Once is enough for the writer and the reader, I think.
This post is about stage 2 of Frozen Flatlands. To refresh your memory I finished 3rd in the time Trial (TT). The second stage was on the same day three hours after the TT. It was only a 25 mile road race(RR) but with the 20-25mph wind I knew I had to be up front after the 1/3 of the race. I knew who was ahead of me and below me in the points after the TT. I was set.
After the TT I drove straight home to exchange my bikes and get a dry kit for the RR. My wife needed the car for the afternoon so she drove me out to the race. I planned on riding the 15 miles home after the race to spin out the gams. We arrived at the start and I was feeling relatively relaxed. She and I sat in the car chatting about things not related to cycling as I began to put on my kit.
As I started pull my things out of my bag and lay them out on the dashboard like I usually do when I noticed I had no shorts. No F'N shorts. I was immediately anaerobic. "I forgot my shorts!" I thought I said in a normal alerted tone. My wife covered her ears apparently from my overly excited and downright filthy expletives that followed my statement.
"Wow, tone it down please. You sound like a shrieking eel." she said. "Well, do you understand what this means. I can't roll up to the start with my twig and berries hangin' out. There are children here. I can't race. Piss."
"Settle down. You're not thinking clearly. First, the children aren't the only ones that would scarred by the sight of your undercarriage. I'm married to you remember. I know the potential psychological damage that.. those.. well...you know, can cause by just a glance. Secondly, you know a lot of people here. Surely someone has a spare pair of shorts you can use."
She was right. I had ten minutes before the start to find a pair of shorts.
"Stop panicking," I told myself. "Just take a deep breath and look for a pair of clean or preferably never been wore shorts you can borrow."
I stepped out of our car, shut the door and start to walk aimlessly through the parking lot mumbling to myself "I need shorts. I need clean shorts." Just then Michael Emde rode by and said with his Austrian accent, "Aren't you racing?" He obviously noticed me in street clothes with tears streaming down my face and mumbling to myself.
"I was but I forgot my shorts and I don't have time to go...."
"I have a whole bunch of them in SUV - all brand new too. Here are the keys. All the shorts are in........." He had me at clean shorts. I didn't listen to another word he said. I was already skipping to his vehicle before he was done talking to me. I opened the back hatch and started to dig through the cornucopia of bags and race gear jammed in the back of his SUV.
"Holy dirty chamois, who in the world brings this much stuff to a race?" I thought. "Oh, maybe someone who is prepared to help out morons like me that forget to bring something to a race." I stopped judging and began to panic when I could find everything but shorts. Finally, after five bags and five strokes later I found one pair of shorts sandwiched between two bags and grabbed them. I ran to the start line to hand to keys back to Michael and sprinted to my car to get dressed.
"So I told you you could find someone with a spare pair of shorts." my wife pointed out.
"You were right." I said, knowing that most people like to be acknowledged for giving good advice. I started to get undressed when I noticed that the bib shorts had knots tied on the shoulder straps and the chamois smelt of chamois cream. They weren't new and most likely not clean either. I had no choice other than put them on and not think of the numerous possibilities of how they got soiled.
Then was time to hesitate, I needed to put them on and fast. I wiggled and squirmed to get them on and thinking to myself, "Crap these are tight.". I noticed the tag in the shorts said medium as I fought to get them on like women do with their "skinny" jeans. Size medium would not be a problem if I normally wore mediums but I wear large and always large and on rare occasions extra large depending on the manufacturer.
After I was able to tuck in my body and extra skin I have lately developed from 48 years on this planet, I looked down at the shorts, which didn't even come past mid-thigh and exclaimed out loud to my wife, "S*#t, I look like Daniel Craig when he came out of the water in "Casino Royale". A hearty laughter poured from her side of the car punctuated by uncontrolled snorts.
"Dan....Daniel......Craig....ha, ha,..snort...you mean, Rowen Atkins in 'Johnny English'. At least that is what I see from my view point.....ha,ha." "Wow, that's a burst of confidence for me." I retorted. "Well, really, Daniel Craig."
"Last call for 40+ Masters. Two minutes to start." A voice barked through a bull horn.
I quickly installed my socks, Sidi shoes, and Giro helmet and then straddled my bike. Sprinting to the start line, I looked back at the car to wave goodbye to my wife, only to find her pointing at me with one hand and wiping the tears of laughter with the other. She seemed to be murmuring Daniel Craig at the same time while shaking her head. I approached the line just in time to hear the official go through the routine of hazards and rules they must regurgitate before the start of every race.
Halfway through the mandatory verbal USA Cycling throw-up, I felt pressure in my bladder. The double espresso at The Scoop had stimulated my kidneys to process the liter of Powerade and 40 oz of water I had between the TT and at that very moment. I also believe that the extra tight shorts might have been contributing to this sudden sensation.
We rolled-out and headed towards a small community called Tyler. The tailwind made it easy to cruise around 27 mph without effort. A few ambitious souls made futile attempts to break-away but to no avail. Nine miles had passed with no major activity except the increasing size of my bladder. When we reached Tyler we crossed the freeway over-pass and turned right into the wind.
The speed of the pack slowed substantially. At this speed I knew I would wet myself before the finish. I prayed to the cycling gods for sacrificial lambs to go up front to pick up the pace. My prayers were answered and three different teams sent up their henchmen to do the dirty task of putting pressure on the pack. This went on for most of the race until the last 5 miles of the race.
By this point my concentration was on bladder control rather than a good result. I tried standing, sitting toward the back of the saddle, big gears, spinning, anything to relieve the discomfort that had been building since the start of the race - nothing was working. Then someone with the strength of Thor threw down the gantlet. The pack began to disintegrate. Everyone was pinned against the center line fighting to find a draft. I forgot about bladder failure, and dug in to make sure no one separated me from the hope of a good finish.
I noticed the guy in front of me arching his back and looking between his knees. I knew he was just seconds from cracking so I sprinted around him and forced him to give me his spot in the line. Just as I assumed my position in the line of pain, the rider two positions ahead of me began to go through the same ritualistic suffering motion. Again, I sprinted around two guys and forced my way into the sliver of draft provided by the rider in front of me. This went on for the next 3 miles.
I saw the 1k sign in the distance and thought it would be wise to look back behind me to take inventory. There were 4 in front of me and 4 behind me.
There was nothing but shattered dreams of victory dotting the ribbon of road behind us. I think we all knew this was the final selection and the speed began to drop. Without the constant struggle for position not weighing on my mind anymore, my bladder started to talk trash in the worse way. At 800 meters the speed jumped up and I got out of my saddle to put pressure on the pedals along with a greater sensation of needing to pee. I quickly sat down to stop from watering-down the borrowed shorts. What would I say to Michael at the end of the race? "Hey, thanks for bailing me out with the shorts and here they are. Oh, yeah, sorry for the urine." I didn't think so.
I choose to sprint it out in the saddle for it seemed to provide the most bladder control though the pressure was still quite strong. I managed to cross the line in 5th with dry shorts and a full tank of urine. I didn't slow down when I finished. I just kept riding to the nearest toilet to relive myself. And relieve myself I did, to what maybe a personal record for my longest pee in my life.
I think I'll double check the bag for shorts next time.