Monday, April 19, 2010
The images of my teammates fighting back to the pack after a crash or blazing off the front of the peloton in a leg crushing attack forces advance math theory and proofs to run through my little TURTLE brain as I question my place on this team. My legs continue to come up short of filling the void created by my rather loud laugh and pre-race trash talking. No mater what I add to the equation, the empty set remains . . .
Such was the feeling on Saturday during the RGS Title Chantilly Criterium. This was our team race. The previous year I had done well racing twice CAT 5 and CAT 4/5 35+). Although I went into the day with 3 DNFs (Did Not Finish), I was confident of my ability to hang on a finish a race on the day. Add that teammate Jeff Smith offered me a Martini Prime for a first lap flyer off the front, I was motivated. I’ll do just about anything for a Grey Goose Dirty Martini, shaken, with two olives . . . YUM!!!
Signed up to race twice, I decided to concentrate on finishing my first race and go for Martini Madness in the second. I had a plan and was convinced I could execute it. As I warmed up I watched as the EVO/L&F ladies put down some heat. Sara jumped on an early break and I look at her Mike and told him she just raised the bar and he had to answer during his race . . .
Our CAT 5 Brothers brought even more heat to the field. Last year we worked well for rookies but this year the team looked like Pros. The leg crushing setup and 2,3,4 finishing was so impressive. Who needs RedBull (and vodka) when bike racing like this is going on?
Oh yes, the feeling of overconfidence. This was my day. Greatness would occur. Legs would perform and meet the trash spoken. It was on. How big was my little cranium swelling with air? Well, I had to loosen the straps of my helmet to get it on as I went to the line . . .
At the start I was way to far back. In CAT 5 fields last year this was never a problem as I usually started right on the line or just behind it and easily moved up. That was fields of 50. This field of 100 is different. That is such simple math but I failed to realize the level of effort needed to run the equation at 25+ mph.
I tried left, I tried right, I even tried to shoot up the middle. In all directions I failed to gain ground. Each battle was zapping the TURTLE sticks. Matches were flying out of the box. After 30 minutes, the wet ones were the only ones left when the truck that hit CA during the ladies CAT 4 race backed upped and rolled over my little legs.
Normally I am skinny enough to fit between the lines in a set of tires. Not today. I snapped off the back. I stood to catch the last wheel coming by and had nothing in the tank. I was once again in that alone and unafraid place I have seen a bit too much of this season . . .
Two laps into solo TURTLE time my calf sized up again from the effort I placed on the remaining nub-like legs. On the back side of the course I pedaled with one leg and tried to work out the muscle spasm. It worked!!! YEAH!!! I grabbed a gear and jumped back on it. I was going to finish this race and I was not going to get lapped. Recalled the over confidence . . . it was jaded a little but remained. Mental calculus revealed there was enough to get me through this race. I was going to use every little bit of it. Time to empty the stores and give it all I have plus a little more . . .
Well, that was until the motorcycle judge/ref pulled up and waved his hand across his throat. He then confirmed it vocally . . . “You’re done!”
If not for the head wind, the air expelled from the front of my over confidence cranium would have caused me to fall over backwards. I pedaled to the start/finish with my head hung below my handlebars, pulled off the course and started triage on my wounds . . .
DNF #4 . . .
I wanted to find a hole to hide in. However, the team was still at it and making it happen. Although I was crushed, I began to employ that vicarious living method through my EVO/L&F Brothers and Sisters. I AAR’d (sorry…After Action Report for you non-military types) my effort, made the decision not to try for the Martini Prime, and actually tried to wimp out of racing on Sunday . . .
No sooner they asking Coach-$-Dr Bill what I should do for a workout on Sunday if I don’t race, I got my answer from him, PHILBILLY, SHAGGY, and just about everyone else standing around . . . “You ARE racing tomorrow TURTLE!” Peer pressure trumps a crushed spirit every time . . .
So, after tearing down the RGS Title Chantilly Criterium course I headed home, fueled the broken body and made arrangements to ride w/ SHAGGY (Jeff Erler) to Carl Dolan Circuit Race . . .
This was a CAT 3/4 Race and SHAGGY let me know it was going to be tough. I had not finished a CAT 4/5 or CAT 4 race yet and now I am upping the bar. I think I need professional help . . .
However, SHAGGY was da heat. Having won the event last year as a CAT 4, he offered some advice on where I should set up in the peloton and how I should set up before the one turn. I appreciated the words and after hooking up with Tom Donnelly, I was ready to put words into execution . . .
The first 4 laps after the start were hard but I was hanging in the pack. The sprints out of the one and only turn on the course were taxing but I was picking good wheels. I avoided two spin outs/almost crashes and tried to stay away from anyone hitting the brakes. That was the hardest part as everyone seem to do that at the back of the pack . . .
At one point I found SHAGGY and started to move up to him. A guy named Clint, whom we had raced with in our last two races, had parked next to us before the race and he was right on SAHGGY’s wheel. I tucked in right behind him and my confidence at finishing this CAT 3/4 event was off the charts. I would not have a DNF #5!!!
At the 30 min mark it happen again. My legs exploded and toothpicks littered the hill of the climb. I was moving backwards again. I screamed “NO!” to myself and dug as deep as I could. The tank said “E” and the warning lights began to blink as I became the little TURTLE engine that could not. I had nothing left. We were averaging close to 25 mph and I could no longer hang. Out the back I went . . .
As I did, I saw Tom Donnelly up the road with one other guy. I pushed to close the gap. Rider #3 did not want to work with us and speed off. Tom allowed me to recover and we began trading off leads. I was going to finish this race . . . I was going to finish! I had a Brother with me and Life was as good as it could get . . . off the back.
Up the climb to the Start/Finish I gapped Tom. I looked back and did not see him coming. I looked again, and again then decide to stand on the pedals and just go. I had to go. I had to finish . . .
With 4 laps to go the lead car pulled up next to me to confirm I was a lap down. I was directed to get to the right and did so. I was so happy that he did not pull me that I did a quick “HAPPY TURTLE DANCE” on the saddle and told myself that I would jump on the back of the group and not let go. I did just that . . .
Things were going well. I was back in the group (though a lap down). I could hide from the wind and I knew what lines to take. This was pure goodness.
Then I got the crushing blow . . .
The motorcycle judge kept blowing his whistle. I looked back (I was the last guy in the pack) and he told me that I could not be here. WHAT? Did he not know I was TURTLE? Did he not know that I was of very little threat? I’m NON-LETHAL . . . remember?
Yeah, I know there are rules and I recall the discussion on the email lists but again. This is TURTLE. Where’s my waiver form?
So I had to let the group go and suffer in the wind alone and again unafraid. I began to look at the positive side. I was not pulled and had less than 5 miles to go to the finish. I grabbed gears, put my head down and pedaled through the pain in my legs. My small calves were screaming for me to stop. I ignored them. I pedaled as hard as I could and . . .
Monday, April 12, 2010
The bike racing beat down I suffered at Vint Hill served to motivate me. Most folks, including my coach, Bill Gros of Pyramid Training Systems, says that it take 3 - 5 years to develop as a bike racer. Well, I tried to do it in 3 weeks . . .
After giving up alcohol for Lent (I’m not Catholic...but need divine intervention to keep me away from the shaken and never stirred DIRTY Martinis that I just plain love!!!) I needed consistent training and diet habits. My coach and others all said the same thing Recall at Vint Hill I was a nice round soft shell TURTLE carrying 10lbs of bad stuff. I need to get serious . . .
So it was on. Both of them. I trained consistently. I even trained in the rain while visiting my family in Germany. The weight was falling off, confidence was soaring. I was growing light and lean. My legs felt great on the climbs around my village of Steinalben, Germany. Surly I was back . . .
Walkersville Road Race was the first test of the refurbished TURTLE shell. I hit the scale a full 10 lbs lighter than the line at Vint Hill. Yeah, 10 lbs in 3 weeks. Maybe I can sell this to Jenny Craig or The Biggest Looser. Either way, I was pumped . . .
I huddled with my Evolution Cycling Club p/b Long & Foster Brothers to warm up. Awesome it was. Grouped together like we were just added the positive vibe. This was my day, this was my race. No excuses, none at all . . .
After the neutral roll out the race was on. I rode near the front and felt great. Former Teammate Kyle Jones had provided some great racing words of advice. I kept repeating them in my little TURTLE brain. it was simple math and I could hang without an extra pad of scratch paper or calculator. I was back . . .
Confidence was hitting new highs as we rounded the course. I was expected a lot harder course. The stories from last year were horrific in terms of the wind and stair-step climbs. Yet, I was the lighter, leaner TURTLE engine that could. And I was on it . . .
Well, until the start of lap 2 . . .
A calf spasm just about crippled me. It quickly shot up the rather thin TURTLE stick and I struggled to keep the bike upright. I tried to pedal through it and it got worse. I sat up and went from in the front 10 or so riders to the back and out at light speed . . .
I pulled over and begin to massage my leg. After a few seconds I could bend it so I turned the bike and started to head back. I then saw teammate, Dan “Da DIESEL” Bailey roll by. He yelled, I yelled and off he went on the course with me headed in the opposite direction . . .
For some crazy reason I turned my bike again and went after him. Yeah I know, this is perhaps against ALL the UCI rules but I wanted to ride.
I dug deep as I could as my calf pulsated. As skinny as my legs are I did think what little calf (about the size of a small potato) I had was just about ready to break off. But I pushed on. I caught up to Dan and we rolled through a lap together before pulling off the course. I needed it . . .
My second DNF in a row . . . that I did not need!!!
I went home licking my wounds and fueling my body with everything and anything I could fine on the list of stuff that folks say I was lacking in my system. I vowed that Tysons would be different. I arrived early and planned on getting a full warm up. Again, we grouped as a team and w/ Rammstein playing on my iPod, I was as ready as I could ever be . . .
The Tysons Corner Circuit race start was one that almost wasn’t as a few cats went down right in front of me and teammate Phil “UGH” Steinschneider. At 160, I weigh as must as UGH’s quad. As he moved over to avoid the wreck, I thought I would get crushed or bounce off him and to the ground myself. Yet I survived and off we were.
Like Walkersville, I felt great. I began the task of working my way through the field to stay near the front. It was working. Well, it was working for 25 minutes of a 60 minute race . . .
I began falling off on the climb. I pushed at the top to get back in the group and made it. My confidence spiked at the effort. The group would slow down (they did) and I would recover. I did . . . YES!!! This was going to work. Happy TURTLE dance on the saddle . . .
Well, that lasted about one or two more laps. This time I went backwards on the climb. I shifted, I mashed the pedals, I stood up, I continued to slide back. NO, NO, NO . . . this was not going to happen today. I was light and lean. There was no spasms or cramps. Where was my lethal power?
It was most certainly not in my legs. At the top of the climb they snapped off and out the back I went. On the backside of the course I met up with former Teammate Jamey Lees and another guy. I yelled if we work together we could get back on. As we rotated through, I could not hang with them. The matches were all gone. Even the wet one . . .
I pushed through a lap or two as the field caught me. I stood and tried to jump back on. Perhaps there was a left over match I could use. Nope . . . was not going to happen. As I came across the START/FINISH the officials waved me off. I was done.
DNF number 3!!!
Phil “PHILBILLY” Falconer yelled as I started to head to the parking lot . . . “You’re not done TURTLE...get going.” Being of such weak mind, I did three more non-lethal laps . . .
Post race I walked and chatted and then sought food therapy. I drove straight to FIVE GUYS for a take out order. At home, I left the bike on the truck, sat on the floor w/ my FIVE GUYS and a beer and put 5lbs back on as I fell asleep in a food comma that lasted until almost sunset . . .
I have three races this coming weekend . . . 2 at our race in Chantilly and Carl Dolan. I will finish ALL three. I may be not have lethal legs (yet) but I am persistent. One day I will surprise the field in an attack and cats will say, “That’s TURTLE, he wont go far . . .” I will indeed go far . . . right to the finish.
I’m in this for life . . .
Saturday, March 20, 2010
With the turnout for today’s 540Cycling sponsored Vint Hill Classic, one could most certainly say the season is on and in full swing. How come my legs aren’t???
I too suffered the long hours of indoor trainer hell. Well, maybe not so much for me. But I did give up drinking (for Lent) and thought it would help. It has not . . .
Evolution Cycling/Long & Foster training camp(went down over two weeks ago) had all the warning sings that predicted my performance today. A 12lb over ideal weight TURTLE not only suffered up each climb but strained to hold a wheel. Training Camp is another story (that I owe the team) and I will get to it later . . . PROMISE.
Going back to today . . .
Our CAT 5 team contains Brothers that can bring the heat . . . in buckets!!! From the start whistle, My Brothers set a tempo that few could contend with. They shred the field. Body parts were thrown in multiple locations. Repo men and women began searching through the carnage looking for parts. I should have joined them. A missed opportunity that I would soon regret . . .
While the damage was shoveled out in high speed turns, I sat on my trainer running through my warm up routine. I was finding my zone. It had been a long time. However the familiar play list of Alice in Chains, Disturbed, BuckCherry, Rammstein, Godsmack, and Seether was a welcomed sound. I was bake to being an bike(ROCK)star . . .
I ended my warmup at what I thought was the near end of the CAT 5 race. WRONG!!! Time was Rolex’d 0+30. I cheered a bit for the brothers, counted some body parts lying on the ground (should have gotten some spare legs) and told myself today was going to be a good (fast) day.
As the CAT 4/5 field formed up, I lined up near the back of the pack. Something I never do. This was my first race of the season and I did not know what to expect. So perhaps this was just cautionary. With that perfect hindsight that comes with bad choices, it was dumb. You will not see reruns of such an episode.
From the start, my heart rate went through the roof! I could feel a lung sitting about halfway up my throat pushing to get out. After about 3 laps it happened and I began to fall apart. Now my body parts began to litter the ground at every turn . . .
The slowing to turn and surges out of the turns was something I never had to deal w/ as a CAT 5. In almost every race last year I stayed near the top third of the field. Today I had the hardest time moving up and was beginning to pay the price . . .
One of my EVO brothers rolled by saying, “TURTLE you are not that slow” . . . SynFit’s Jamey Lees pinched my ass (there is a long story there that must wait until after Lent) as he came by yelling, “Move up TURTLE” . . .
I heard the words, I processed the commands, but the mental path from brain to legs failed to initiate. I began rolling backwards in the field. An image I have not seen since my first CAT 5 race last season.
My Brothers and Sisters yelled for me to hang in. These shouts of support were rejected by my legs as well. Had I upgraded to CAT 4 too soon? I began to loose focus and my spirit began to take a blow to the tender parts I hide and protect from most people . . .
After a few solo unglorious laps and the main field catching me at the start finish, I pulled off and started the search and rescue mission for my broken body parts. I found half of my lung and decided to leave it. Will grow another one this week . . .
After the Masters race Bill Gros mentioned that he was ready to saw his legs off and throw them away. I was hopping he would follow through. His recycled legs, though needing a bit move tan to better fit on my body, would most certainly be better than mine at this point . . .
Regardless, it is a long season and I will not retreat, I will not surrender. My next CAT 4 race is the Tour of Walkersville on 10 Apr. I will miss Jeff Cup with travel to Europe to spend Easter with My Monsters. They are going to have to train with their Daddy. I need it . . .
- ▼ April (2)