The Mecklenburg Giro was first advertised as 178K (~110 miles to my non-metric friends). With a shift in dates the race was shorten to 164K (STILL 100 MILES!!!) and was no less a threat. Having 100 - 120K legs most of the season and a training regiment that was sliding down an almost vertical slope to the valley of the under trained, I question my mental judgement for even considering this under taking. Yet I pressed forward on my quest. I was committed to finishing the German Cycling Cup (GCC) series and the list of excuses to break my personal contract with myself were few and far between. It was time once again to man up and just make it happen . . .
The Giro was also the longest drive of the GCC series. Mr Google said 7.5 hours. It took Claudia and I almost 11.5 due to Friday traffic and a few accidents. Needless to say, I was seriously happy we decided to roll up on Friday for a Sunday race. Trying this on Saturday would have been simply insult to injury and more brutal time in a car seat than my frail frame could handle . . .
We scored great digs about 40k from the START/FINISH that allowed Claudia to play golf while I rode. It was the best combo for a weekend. I took complete advantage of this and did an easy spin (80K total) to packet pickup in a cool AM mist that turned to rain on the return. Which I have to say was not bad as the rain was far from cold. It was actually refreshing . . .
There was one section of cobbles within the 1K marker of the START/FINISH. this was going to be interesting. Little did I know, there were more than just one section. The Poor TURTLE Planning axiom, “…those who fail to plan, plan to fail…” was taking shape before my eyes and I was blind to it . . .
Despite my plan crumbling, I was not alone at the Giro. Evolution Cycling Club p/b Long & Foster was 3-deep for the event. One more and we could have secured Team points . . . UGH! Such remains our goal for next year but that is another story.
The start was a bit chaotic on a narrow farm road in which short and long distance competitors were all grouped together. I lost track of my teammates and assumed they had made it in line a head of me. They were actually behind me . . .
Out the gate we hit the first section of cobbles and I did my best to push through it. Water bottles were already hitting the ground and I though to myself . . . 164K and losing your water bottles in the first kilometer—THAT SUCKS!!! But I pressed on.
|The front of the train!|
The pace was intense out the gate as the field was mixed with 74 K and 164K riders. There was no way I could keep this pace for 164K. I needed to get my collective crap together and do it fast. I did not have the fitness or confidence for this level of effort. It was around this time that Jenn and Yosh came flying by. Jenn was crushing it and I could not respond. Yosh was in a strong group of mixed riders and I joined in. I even took a pull or two to keep the pace steady and increase the size of the group as we caught more riders rejected of the lead pace . . .
However the multiple and inspected sections of cobbles were taking a heavy toll on me mentally and physically. I did my best to channel Paris–Roubaix greats like Tom Boonen and Fabian Cancellara. It was a failed attempt. Greats like that are just too big for the TURTLE Shell . . .
Hind sight says I should have ran 25C tires w/ 85 - 90 psi. 23Cs at 120 psi was translating into vibration HELL. My rib cage felt like I was taking punches on either side with every section. I need the uppercut and the knockout punch was just a few pedal strokes from happening. In one section I lost a full bottle of PERPETUM and most certainly needed and wanted those calories for later. I “assumed” a feed station would save me but none were to be found . . .
At the 74K turn off our group went from 25 riders to 6 or 8 and as we hit another section of cobbles. I lost another full bottle and was now out of fluids and 80K left to ride. OH JOY! It was here that I lost contact with my chase group as well. One second of mental departure from the task at hand and I was done. I was in NO MANS LAND with 70K of racing in the rain and out of water. I found myself holding my tongue out like a small child to take in a few drops . . . they were not very satisfying.
I stopped twice to bum water off the medical and volunteer firefighters helping marshall the course. I mad promises of beer at the finish and told them to look for me. I had some cash in the car and most certainly would pay up if I survived this event. It was epic hard to keep peddling and at some point I thing I was just making small circles trying to get back . . .
|How did I miss these pre-race pictures?|
About 10K from the finish I was caught by a small group. They were suffering too. I was able to sit in for a few pedal strokes and that was grand. I needed it. Sitting in also put a smile back on my face as one guy used a bit too much soap cleaning his shorts and had a backside full of bubbles. I almost fell on a section of cobbles when I saw it . . .
I glanced at a passing sign and we were just 3K from the finish. My Garmin said we had 20K to go but I decided to ignore that value and get a little more happy. My suffering was about to end . . . or so I thought.
As we hit the edge of town we were turned away to another section of cobbles. The TURTLE shell was already broken, this just made the pieces smaller. I was being crushed into powder and it did not fell good.
I followed the lead of one cat that tried to use some of the soft shoulder to get through the section. What I should have done was just stay the course and pedal faster to get through the madness. However the TURTLE tank was not only exposed to the elements, it was empty. I slugged through the section and remembered there was one more within 1K of the finish. I had to finish to keep my standing in the GCC and finish I would . . .
I hit the last section of cobbles and crossed the line completely done. This was my first 164K ride in almost 12 years and the first time I had ever attempted to race the distance. It was also my fastest effort at a little over 5 hours. My nightmare on cobbles was over and a bench mark for next season set. I will train specifically for this race and make it happen in 2015. It’s already in my 2015 goals . . .
There’s something about hitting a low that drives me to bounce back stronger. This was certainly a low. However, all was not lost. My finish was below my normal mid-field ranking but I was far from last (although I felt the broom wagon breathing down my neck). I secured enough points to move from 41st to 35th in the GCC Series. I’ll take that and be quiet.
As I reassemble the TURTLE Sell from the pulverised pieces and parts, hell was not as bad as I thought or it could have been. With better prep and conditioning the TURTLE will go there and back in 2015 and the results will be an improvement . . . this is a promise!