In truth, I wanted to bail. But that’s when notions of being stronger as a Team came to view. Jeff HAMMER Pannaman was not only going to Frankfurt, he was determined to break the 3hr mark over the 104 km course (http://ridewithgps.com/routes/2432122). He is da HAMMER!!!
This was also set as the first event that Claudia would attend. She has watched and supported me on long training rides in sub-zero temps, some rides in the rain, as well as time on my trainer in my pain cave. I needed to prove that it was all worth it. Thus I could not back out and North we went . . .
The night prior we met up w/ friends of Claudia's . . . Stefi and Stefan. Two über KOOL ‘n da GANG cats that I most certainly want to hang out w/ again. They took us to a sweet joint and I had to be good by holding back. My mouth would water each time I heard the Martini Shaker do it’s little dance. Discipline, discipline, DISCIPLINE!!! The pain, the misery, the anguish. I needed a Dirty Martini like no other. In fact, I think I will go make one right now . . . JUST KIDDING!!!
But I am digressing (again) . . . we got to our apartment at a reasonable hour and I starting putting on my race makeup in my dreams. 1 May is a German holiday and everything was set to be closed. However, our hotel ensured I had breakfast early and the elderly woman in the kitchen said, “...eat up, you have a long day...” That was the last motivation I needed. It was on . . .
My hotel was a short (less than 5K) ride to the marshaling area. Once again I was impressed by the organization of the event. Entire roads were closed to include highways. There were over 4000 cyclist and also a group of serious in-line skaters competing in a separate event. A U23 race and a Pro race was scheduled for the afternoon. The air was full of speed...super sweet bikes, and cats ready to compete. Our DragonQuest Racers p/b SLACRs had only two cats on the starting line...we need to bring a lot more next year. This is a must event . . .
There was no neutral roll out like the Tour ‘Energie, You rolled from your starting “Block” (HAMMER and I were once again near the back of the bus in Block G) and it was on. The course started fairly flat and we picked our way through the early riders looking for good wheels. Within minutes HAMMER pulled away w/ a faster group and set into his groove to break the 3hr mark. I too found a group and started working my way through this early section of the course. I was surprised that my legs were not telling me to stop. Somehow the pain from the weekend was gone and I was on it as hard as my current level of fitness would allow . . .
At the base of the climb I took a mental beat down as riders swarmed past me. I need to not let that happen as it need to do more than get a passing grade in this mental calculus. I need to excel!!! I settled into my grove and started picking folks off as best I could. The climb up to Feldberg (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gro%C3%9Fer_Feldberg) was epic. The summit sits at 878 m (that 2880 ft) and was the longest climb I have ever done in my life! And we were racing up this beast . . . CRAZY!!!
My heart rate once again took a seat on the top shelf and my legs started screaming about half way up the ascent. But forward I went as there were no other options available . . .
Cresting the highest peak in the Taunus Mountains was pure happiness. However, the race was far from over as I still had 50k of road to cover. The remaining route was far from flat. It entailed a few shorter climbs and I was determined to not leave an once of TURTLE on the road.
I found another group and took my turn keeping the pace as high as we could. On one such pull the guy taking his turn buried it so hard I felt my legs approach the snap off point. I motioned and asked for a little help and two gals from our group closed the gap. Humble pie was served . . .
I drifted to the back of our group of 10 to recover a bit and look for pieces of my crushed manhood . . . I found nothing. It was a little sad but a reminder that I once made this work and I will make it work again.
There were no markings on the road to tell you how far to the finish. I looked down at my computer, did some quick math in public (at least my brain was still working) to subtract my ride to the start and figured I had 15k to go. I topped off fluids, got deep in the drops, moved through my group of 10 and went for wheels up the road. It was time to get this done . . .
The finish once again took us along the highway and then into the finishing shoot. HAMMER had finished 30 minutes ahead of me and brook the seal on getting in the top 200 of our age group. Claudia was with him at the finish as they searched for the lost TURTLE. I’m told that Claudia yelled “Sweetie” to any slightly tanned guy w/ a beard . . .
|DONE . . . and we even got BLING!|
But across the line I soon came finishing a little over 600 deep in my age group of 810 finishers
(about 25 cats in this group did not finish). I was surprisingly still fairly springy. It felt like I had more in the tank to offer. That feeling faded 5 min after my shower. With Claudia driving to find substance to feed my body, I cured into a fetal position in the car and back into my shell . . .
“Frank” (http://tpks.ws/lIwD) came close to crushing the TURTLE Shell but in the end he did not. The Shell is stronger, my power numbers are coming back up, I am racing myself into a European road racing form. It will come. 12 May is 126K of greatness in the beautiful city of Köln (Cologne). Event 3 of 15 in the series and I will soon break the 200 mark. So it is written, so will it be done . . .