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 . . .