Wednesday, June 5, 2013

LANTERNE ROUGE Season V: The Price of 30 Seconds -- German Zeitfahren Cup 2 of 3

The week prior provided a break in the German Cycling Cup schedule and it was much appreciated.  My weight was continuing to come down it was all goodness.  Hitting 72kg put me below my College weight.  It was pure justice when Claudia handed me a pair of jeans from her son ( stands about 6’1” and weighs a lean/skinny 64kg) and they fit with room to spare.  I was now close to race weight (or a diet intervention) and my power numbers were still coming up.  A light, lean, and possibly lethal TURTLE was in the making . . .

A true break from racing was not in the cards as the next event on my list was the second Time Trial in the German Zeitfahren Cup.  Recall I broke the racing silence with the wet, cold and short Prolog that just about crushed me out the gate.  This was a 25 km effort and I wanted to redeem myself, I was motivated and hungry (literally) . . .

My TT position on the bike has been identified by a cast of critics as needing work.  So in pure TURTLE engineering fashion I starting building up and new rig and had hoped to work on that.  Half way through the build I realized I was missing tools necessary to pull parts off of one bike to put them on another.  And of course no one carries Campagnolo tools locally.  Thus to the web I went and orders were placed.  I am now at the mercy of the mailman and practicing patience as I try to sell off old parts to cover my increasing cycling debt.  I’m on the negative side of this algebraic equation and getting worse.  My debt ratio is becoming logarithmic . . .

So left with my current TT rig I set out to practice a 25 km effort on the trainer as rain continued to poor across Germany.  The winning time for the TT was 32 minutes and some change.  My results on the trainer just about set me into therapy.  I know I have a little TURTLE engine but this was a crazy 53 min+.  The officials will have dismantled the course by the time I finished.  This did not look good.  I thought about trying to modify my position on the bike among all the plates I was spinning, this task drew the short straw and was voted off the island.  Bad position and shoulders that require consistent physical therapy (that I was not doing) and all aside . . . I did not make it a priority and I had to just make it work.  Brute force at its best . . .

Mentally battered and a one of the few days of sun this season drove me out of my pain cave to the roads.  What started as an easy spin for an hour or two led to a 100K solo coffee shop ride.  It was awesome and much needed.  It reminded me why I ride and was cheaper than paying for therapy session (again).  Coin saved, debt ration spared more negative influence . . . YES!!!

As the rain started yet again, I decided to not attempt another indoor TT effort and pulled out one of the Chris Carmichael Progressive Power Series DVDs to break up the madness.  Class 9: Time Trailing caught my eye and to the bike I went . . . it was brutal!  During the final interval the moderator had us focus on the individual that started 30 sec ahead and run them down.  I started burning this image in my cornea.  I wanted this.  I pushed through and finished feeling energized.  I was going to have my best TT ever . . .

The DragonQuest Racers p/b SLACRs split into to camps for the weekend.  Coach Quest and our latest addition and first female member to the squad Doni Anderson went joined me for the TT in Rosdorf.  HAMMER (Jeff Pannaman) and DIESEL (Matt Arant) rolled to Schleiz for race 5 of 15 in the German Cycling Cup and 140 km of climbing fun.
The drive to Rosdorf was a 4+ hr effort and I planned to overnight (more coin = further in debt).  So after sleeping in on Saturday I took off heading North.  Original plan entailed driving the truck up w/ two rigs to allow for a spin on the course and leg opener.  Yet the rain was still coming down in buckets and I opted for my car and off I went with a little lunch bag from Claudia that included a small bottle of red wine.  Life was good!

There was a section of road that was off the Autobahn and went through a town.  I did not recall this at all.  As I approached the traffic light, I glazed over to my GPS and experienced a Batman “BAM!”

Taking a Face Shot

I rolled right into the car in front of me.  While only a “love tap” it was enough to break my license plate holder and make nice work of the grill on my 2012 Mercedes Benz C300.  The cost of racing just went nuclear!  I was thankful the guy was Kool ‘n da Gang about the bump.  We exchanged insurance info, cards, and I push on towards Rosdorf . . . crying (literally).

Arriving in G√∂ttingen, I met up with Coach Quest and after checking in to my hotel we set out to pre-drive the course before dinner.  In the three seasons I have raced, this was the first time I have ever done something like that.  Having Coach Quest there to talk through the course was awesome.  We looked at the terrain and noticed the open areas and even in the light misting rain, the wind was noticeable.  It was going to be a factor . . .

At dinner we talked about the TT and my need to learn to suffer more on the bike.  DIVA (Luis Infante) and CHEWIE (Luke Majewski) had often said the same to me.  They were all right . . .

Post breakfast I laid on my bed and watched videos from my Evolution Cycling Club p/b Long & Foster crew.  The CRIT practice and Ride Sally Ride Criterium video from Kent Le were putting me in the racing mindset.  I prep’d my wheels and searched for a small farm animal to sacrifice on the makeshift altar I had build before them.  I need them to carry me through the howling wind and put my best effort forward . . .

Preparing for TT Battle

Coach and I rolled into the start area and begin I set my trainer up for my warmup.  The temps were in the 40s to low 50s and the wind blew my bike over.  I was regretting not bringing my second set of wheels as running a disc may be more of a negative than a positive . . . my Algebra was once again being tested in public and I was failing to achieve a passing grade.

I started my warm up routine following the TEAM Sky TT Warm Up routine.  I have practiced it a number of times and the ramp up to Zone 5 usually leaves me spent.  But not this time . . . I stated the ramp up as The Pride by Five Finger Death Punch hit my iPod:
(I am) what you fear most, (I am) what you need
(I am) what you made me, (I am) the American dream
I'm not selling out, I'm buying in

This was the best warm up in a long time.  The last time I had a good warm up like this was during the RFK Stadium Criterium in 2009.  I finished 12 that day and could have done better if I knew how to Sprint.  But that is history and this is the present and at present, I was pump’d!

With 15 minutes to spare I answered nature, finished getting dressed (to include my make up), slammed a HAMMER gel, got the bike off the trainer, and did a few efforts up and down the road behind the starting block.  Five Finger Death Punch kept rolling through my head . . .
I will not be forgotten, this is my time to shine
I've got the scars to prove it, only the strong survive
I'm not afraid of dying, everyone has their time
I've never favored weakness, welcome to the pride

I was amazingly calm as I hit the start gate…almost weird.  I am usually on the edge of freaking out.  I quickly got up to speed and settled into my groove.  In turn one I passed a guy.  Not sure if he was racing or just on the course.  However passing him was a shock to my system.  I am the one that is usually passed in a TT.  I could see more cats up the road and looked down to see I was pushing at 300 Watts.  There was no way I could keep this output up so I pulled it back to my 200 range and marked the folks up the road.

I began closing in on folks as I was passed by the first of 3 riders.  The last was wearing number 47 . . . I was wearing number 43 so quick math indicated that this guy made up 2 minutes on me.  This was the last guy to pass me as I passed 3 other riders on my own.  I did not look at their numbers as I had marked the one jersey ahead and he was my target . . .

Making the turn for the second lap of the course and back into a cross wind, my target was in striking range.  At this point I did not care and started burning matches left and right of centerline.  I was determined to even burn the wet ones to catch this cat . . .

On the last stretch before the final run to the finish I caught my target.  He was wearing number 42 and had started 30 seconds in front of me.  He attempted to challenge my passing and I burned the last wet match to put a stop to the psychological warfare.  It worked and away I went burying it to the finish.  I was only slowed by a car that came onto the course and stopped right in front of me.  I sat up to break, maneuver and push to the finish.

While my time was far from impressive at almost 42 minutes (winning time was 32 and change) it was my best effort on the bike to date with an intensity factor (IF) of over 1 (100%).  I left nothing on the road (…except puke).

The new tool orders, the time spent traveling 4+ hrs, the gas, the meals, the hotel, the new wheel covers, race registration, the insurance deductible for my car, and my poor TT position all went into a higher level math equation to put a price tag on what it took for me to cover 30 seconds.  The answer to my hypothesis is . . .


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