Evolution Cycling Club p/b Long & Foster is on fire this season. My Brothers and Sisters of spandex greatness are making it happen and taking names. Mental toughness has combined with physical (more like freak of nature) strength to just dominate races . . .
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 . . .
- ▼ April (2)