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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

LANTERNE ROUGE Season V: Consistency is How TURTLE Rolls


Last year Coach Quest (Eric Cole . . . Dragon Quest Coaching) put the German Zeitfahrcup (a 3-event Time Trial series) on the Team bucket list.  We dreamed of podiums as individuals and as a team under the DragonQuest Racers p/b SLACRS banner.  I pushed all my TURTLE chips across the table, entered a Martini Madness hiatus (OK I slipped up a few times but the year has gone well below previous levels of consumption performance), and dedicated myself to the call to ride.  It was on, and I was in to the end . . .

Some guys (and gals) are sprinters, some are climbers, some a time trial gods and goddesses...I’m simply TURTLE.  I consistently ride, semi consistently train, but consistently drop serious coin and time to race.  My wallet follows up on promises and commitments made by my mouth even when my legs can’t.  Next month I will total up the year, take out a second mortgage on the house, and perhaps find a part time job waiting tables during base training.  Bottom line . . . I’m in this crazy sport for the rest of my life!!!

We had a great showing for the 1st TT in the series with six riders.  This dropped to a lean two for the 2nd event and those same two (Coach and me) set out for TT 3 of 3.  Words spoken and action taken.  The call to ride was answered . . .

The final running in the Zeitfahrcup, OELLES-Bergzeitfahren was all about the commitment to the series.  For those living in Germany we all know the word “berg” very well.  To our legs it means climbing and shout outs of pain over long steady grades made with German precision.  The third TT of the series was a steady 5.4K hill climb.  Average grade was 6% with 7 and 8% in the turns.  Short, sweet and straight up was the painful menu for the day . . .

Oh how I wished I had stayed on my diet (had put on 5 lbs of beer and bad food in the last few weeks) and had the power to dance on the pedals in time and tempo as I float to the top of the climb.  I had planned to be light, lean, and lethal for this event.  Truth was far from reality as my discipline had slipped.  I was neither light or lean.  Instead of a show of elegance and grace on the bike . . . this was a planned suffer fest and then some.  I know the path to greatness . . . why do I stray to the dark side of beer, schnitzel, and other less helpful items?  Why do all of them just taste so good?  Next year I will do better . . . maybe.

But I am again digressing and need to get back on task.  With that note, here is where I must give serious props to Coach Quest.  He too is far from a natural climber.  However, he is as dedicated as they come.  Commitment made and as it was written it would get done!!!  And getting done meant a 4+ hour drive, and overnight stay, a race of last than 20 minutes, and a 4+ hour drive home.  Yeah, we were committed.  We should be committed . . . to a mental institution!!!

Rolling North the roads were wet and temps were dropping.  My body started recalling the Zeithfahrcup Prolog in which we raced in a cold wet rain.  We were destined to end like we started.  I was not happy and the lack of happy TURTLE puts me in a bad place.  I started looking for excuses but could not man up enough to listen to them.  So I just drove faster and ran down every Audi I could find on the Autobahn.  I was taking my frustration out on the road at over 200 kph . . . AWESOME!!!

I met Coach late on Saturday and we drove the course.  This was a blessing.  We marked the turns and the final K.  Even though we sat 23rd and 26th in the series for cats that had done the first two events.  We dreamed of breaking into the top 20 and looked at the start list and the times. I believed it was in the art of the possible.  We moved the goal post away from a podium finish many races ago.  A top 20 was in the cards as we did it at the 24-hour N├╝rbergring race.  We could do it again here . . .

The sun started to break through the clouds race morning.  Temps were mild to cool.  The day was coming together and I started kicking myself.  I was not mentally or physically prepared for battle.  My legs were not going to keep up with my mouth once again.  Yet to the front line I was going because turning around and going home takes more guts than pedaling up hill.  Well, that’s the logic I was using and it seem to work . . . a little.

Coach and Jackie had to wake me up as I fell into a deep sleep after breakfast.  I was out in TURTLE dream land.  Like I said, I was not mentally or physically ready to compete.  My body was tired from the drive and non-stop week of that crazy stuff called “work.”  I wanted to stay in bed and be lazy while the river rushed below my window.  Darn commitments.  I need to learn to keep my mouth shut for more than just food . . .

We arrived with over an hour to go before the first rider was set to start.  I was lucky number 13 on the start list.  UGH . . . I just remembered some rule about wearing 13 upside down.  Maybe it would have helped my legs a bit.  Too late now . . . Next year (again).

I set up my trainer and began an easy spin.  I had not touched the bike since the 24-hour N├╝rbergring race and my legs reminded me of that fact.  It was painful to just spin a low gear at 85 – 95 rpm.  I started my Warm-Up play list to drown out my excuses.  It was working.  About 30 min before my start time I started my trusted TEAM SKY TT Warm Up that I had learned about during EVO training camp . . .

The Warm Up was on like clockwork.  I hit all my target zones with ease.  The sun started shinning more and I was working up a sweat.  This was looking better than expected.  The feelings of optimism were helped along by “Audio Slave,” “Five Finger Death Punch,” “Seether,” and “Godsmack.”  My angry music was turning my legs into action.  In some strange way I suddenly felt ready to “BRING IT!”

As I lined up Coach point at number 12 and said, “there is your target.”  I took note and aim right out the gate and headed for the guy.  My heartrate jumped to 195 and parked on the upper deck.  I decided to ignore it and press my TURTLE sticks into action.  Being near the start of the TT train (over 100 cats were lined up) there were plenty of folks that would see my heart flopping on the ground and call for medical help if it popped out.  So I just dug in and turned the pedals.  Previous experience told me 85 rpm is my sweet spot, I was hitting the mark as I went . . .

On the 5% grades I started closing in on my target, at one point I thought I had him.  The second set of switch back turns closed the door on my quest as the unlucky 13 failed to merge on the objective ahead.  I should have stood through the 8% grades.  Nevertheless I continued to ride hard and refused to give up any more ground.  Being so close to the start had me worried that the masses would pass me.  Only one cat was able to accomplish this . . . rider #14 closed the 30 sec gap on me but that was it.  I held the others off as I put in my best climb to date.  I averaged 255 Watts over the 17 minutes at an average heart rate of 192 bpm.  For you non-power junkies, this is a lot for the little TURTLE engine.  My little suffer fest was done . . .
Heart Rate lat lines on the upper deck!

I rode back down looking for Coach and watched him slug through a serious migraine to finish.  He too decided to leave any and all excuses behind.  He was pushing through a migraine up the climb.  BEAST!!!

The series was complete and a chapter closed.  And as far as making up time and space, I moved into the top 20 by finishing the series 18th out of all riders completing three events.  A top 20 finish in my first European TT series . . . I will take that and set the bar higher next year.  In the final listing I drop down to 34th as the rules say something about throwing out your worse score . . . LAME!!! I stick by my rides and will not discount any.  Like I said, the bar is set for future greatness.

My 2014 goals are already starting to develop.  I need to be careful and not over sell my future.  I have come far but the bikeROCKstar road ahead is much further still.  With two events (four races) left to go, I am looking forward to a little Martini Madness or more to close out the season.  Feel free to stop by and join me as I shake the season away and reflect of how to make a faster, stronger, more rabid TURTLE as I pop a few olives in my mouth and continue talking trash . . .

. . . because that is what TURTLE does!

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