I originally wanted to take a pass on the 4 Aug Škoda Velorace in Dresden (German Cycling Cup event 10 of 15). I did not think I was up to a circuit race in Germany. However, after riding strong during the Bochum, SpakassenGiro, I had to make this happen. After all, it was a series and I was up to completing the task. I started committed and I will end just as committed . . . so went the “Plan”
Two distances were offered and the original plan called for Coach Quest to complete the shorter distance (63 K) and I would drop the longer distance (105 K). Well, my lack of true German skill needed for registration had us both signed up for the longer (105 K) event. So, to make good on my mistake, I promised to stay with Coach Quest and ensure he made it through the distance. I put aside my Evolution Cycling Club p/b Long & Foster and packed my Stuttgart Local Area biCycle Riders (SLACR) kit. I was all in for a DragonQuest Racers effort. That was Plan Change 1 . . .
I reached out to the Ponies that carried me over the roads of the Neuseen Classics back on 19 May in Zwenkau. Team Steile Wand would be in the house and I looked forward to catching their wheels. A great solid crew and legs of pure heat . . . this was taking into consideration as I added an amendment to Change 1 of the Plan . . .
Coach Quest got a late start (it took me longer to get pretty) on our 5+ hour drive north by northwest. We loaded the bikes in the car and made great time on the road thanks to well manicured Autobahn in the former East Germany. We hit Dresden in a little over 6 hours after a stop for grub. PERFECT! The Plan was in full swing . . .
Dresden . . . what an awesome city!!! The rebuild since the fall of the Wall is simply majestic. Despite the intense heat (97 F) this is renaissance living at its best. An awesome venue to as Jennifer Call stated...“Bring the Action!”
Coach and I walked the START/FINISH noting the slight uphill after a long straight away along the river. Regardless of where we were in the field, I planned to lead Coach out on a good sprint finish. In my mind he would take the field spring of whatever group we were in. This was plan Change 2. It was going to be epic . . .
Race day temps were in the mid 80s so this was doable. As we pedaled up to the START/FINISH my ears were blessed with a load “TURTLE!” from Team Steile Wand (a.k.a The Ponies) great Dirk Dießel. It was good to see the crew and the Pony ranks were swelling. Team Steile Wand was sitting no less than 8 or 10 deep and ready to bring the heat. SWEET!!!
We quickly found out that they were staged a block ahead of us . . . I had to hide the UNHAPPY TURTLE FACE. In my rather extensive day dream, I believed we could catch them and sit in. Oh how I was dreaming . . .
We hung out in the shade waiting for out start. Once again I dreaded the “line up and wait” but was becoming use to it within the German Cycling Cup series. Right on queue, cats started moving to the line 30 minutes prior as stated in the program. There are rules and rules must be followed . . . say that with a German accent and laugh with me. I need the humor . . .
The sun was baking us. My farmer’s/biker’s tan was becoming even more defined. My mocha brown base was receiving a few milk chocolate sections or razor sharp tan lines (Rule #7 // Tan lines should be cultivated and kept razor sharp). I was loaded down with no less than 4 water bottles to ensure Coach would make it through the 105 K without dehydrating. King domestique I thought to myself. I planed and was executing the plan. Did I not say this was going to be epic? It was . . .
We added to The Plan a concept of sitting in the first lap to get a true feel for the course. As the course went against traffic in sections it was impossible to pre-ride. We had 5 laps to make 105 K happen and leveraging public math in my little TURTLE brain, plenty of time to move up in the field. This was Plan Change 3 . . .
|All Aboard the TURTLE Train|
The start was a typical German Cycling Cup “shotgun” with cats hammering off the line. I made sure I knew where Coach was and starting sitting in. I took turns wide to get away from crazy wheels . . . I was surrounded by crazy!!! I had enough strength to sprint out of every turn with little to no effort. It was on and I was in it . . .
I tried to organize a few groups and failed. Perhaps I need to work on my German to clearly articulate my intent as it was just not working at all. At some point Coach had enough of the slow pokes and started to bridge up to a group up the road. I went with him. It was impressive! He was hitting it hard on the first lap to close a gap . . .
We caught a nice sized group and instead of sitting in to recover, we went straight through them. I went to the front and started to set the tempo. I motioned for help and go little to none so I just plowed on. Coach took advantage of the effort and sprinted out in front of me and the group on the lap before sitting back in right behind me. So there we had it, the two of us leading the pack and chasing Team Steile Wand up the road. I asked Coach how many was I dragging and his initial answer was 50 . . . it was more like 30 but I took the 50 and got even more motivated.
The course had a few rail road crossings and cobblestone sections. I hit them hard and made ground as others went for their brakes. It was all coming together and this was my time. The last time I felt this good during a race as the Ride Sally Ride Criterium in Sterling VA. I was determined to make this a solid effort . . .
I sat out on the front of the main group for a large portion of another lap. I drifted back to recover a bit and noticed Coach moving to the front as the tempo slowed down. This is where communication started to breakdown. What should have occurred is an effort to leave the slower group and bridge up the road. What happen was far from that . . .
Coach burned the entire match book to include the wet ones. Nothing was left. He was cooked after the effort and I drifted back with him. I sat up to make good on my promise and watched the group I was leading ride away from me. I was stronger than every rider in the group and it was hard to let them go. But I made a promise and I would stand by my word.
On our next to last lap the leaders of the field caught us. It was awesome to see the power and speed fly by. I will be in that group next year. I need to build on my current base and it will come. It will come. Of this I am certain . . .
The Plan survived first contact but fell apart near the end. A great learning experience and lesson in communication within a team. Lesson learned . . .
The year of the bikeROCKstar is within my grasps. Sunday’s race showed me just how close it was. I will not let this opportunity pass. As one guy stated as we waited to start, “Anyone can watch a bike race on TV . . .”
No further words are necessary . . .