Monday, June 15, 2009

If Wishing Only Made it So

I spent last week in Charleston, SC, prepping witnesses and handling depositions (the picture is me across the way from Fort Sumter saluting my Union ancestors). After a week of that I thought I'd head on down the road to Beaufort and race a little bit in the Low Country. The Low Country Challenge is a stage race with three stages over two days and a total altitude change of 5 feet. Maybe I'm exaggerating a bit, but it was flat and fast. I ended up 13th in GC and that's the end of that story. The Low Country boys can flat out ride fast in a straight line. They can't turn their bikes to save their lives. However, when you can jump like a gazelle you don't have to turn to well, unless you are being chased by a cheetah.

This weekend I felt more like a lone wolf. Someone would jump and I would accelerate and pull them back with determination and will. The spark wasn't there but the ability to turn myself inside out was. In the road race on Sunday I found myself in a group of about 20 guys that had left the rest of the field behind. A split formed in that group and I was behind the leading 7 or 8. Along with the help of a couple other guys I pulled it all back together. I tried to jump to the break but didn't have the power to make an instant gap so I had to do it the old fashioned way.

The break was pulled back but 10 seconds later 5 guys were up the road. The break was comprised of a lot of the horsepower left in the field and the big teams were represented. I knew I had to put myself there or else the race was over for me. I jumped across, got clear, joined a guy in nomansland and dropped him. The break had 5 seconds on me for about half a mile. I was riding consistently at more than 100-150 watts above my lactate threshold. I felt the fibers of my muslces shredding. I put my head down and prayed for any draft, just an ounce, just something to close those five seconds. Then it happened and I was on.

We spent the next 15 minutes rotating and after all that effort we were caught by the remaining 9 guys in the field. We rode the rest of the race almost in neutral but I was done. A Kansan told me that you can push your body beyond the point where almost anyone else would stop. He said that you can literally turn yourself inside out and then right back again. I'm not saying I rode harder than anyone else or that I achieved something superhuman. All I'm saying is that on Sunday I redefined what pain means to me. And now I'm stronger for it.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Only the Strong Survive: Tulsa Tough

KC's Justin hit the nail right on the head when he described the deceptively friendly panda logo of this year's edition of Tulsa Tough:

"I think the Panda in the logo for the hospital and race is a perfect mascot for this 3 day race series. The image of a Panda lulls you into a false sense of security and then once you approach it it grapples your head and sinks its incisors deep into your jugular and rips your throat open, leaving you for dead."

For more you can always visit Justin's blog. Tulsa Tough is 3 days of crit racing in Oklahoma that become more and more deadly to its racers. At first it's just the heat, then it's the 125-guy fields, then it's the insane speeds that you average (all above 26 mph which includes several less than friendly hills) and topped off by the dumbest hardest river bluff climb (complete with kegs and oddly dressed spectators with flags and baby dolls).

On both Friday and Saturday I finished in the top 25, despite the valiant efforts of other bike racers to thwart my endeavors by throwing their bikes on the ground in front of me. There was an amazing number of guys in all the races who took insane risks but ran out of talent halfway through and ended up wrecking. Sunday was a mess and I ended up cracking on the hill with about 12 laps to go.
Over all it was a great experience, but still a little disheartening in the results. Saturday was definitely my day but I got a little boxed in, in the final sprint and had to sit down and then reaccelerate. I made several moves over several days but I'm not strong enough to hold off 100 other guys. The Stars and Bars did get called out at the line on two occassions. On top of the announcer being confused by the presence of a DCer, Venerable NCVC alum Scott Delaune was at the race on Friday and gave a shout out followed by numerous laps of heckling and calls for me to push the speed past ludicrous to plaid.
As the first of my focus events of the year, I have to say I am pretty psyched and that it bodes well for this weekend's Low Country Challenge in South Carolina. I've got the power courtesy of coach Adam Mills, now I just gotta get the big ring on.