He's ok if he's not the fastest on the block, but that doesn't lead him to treat cycling like an adult kickball league as so many do. Cycling is important. It's ok to train for it. It's ok to want to be faster, because that's actually more fun than sucking completely. At the same time, being fast doesn't make you better than anyone else, and he knows that, too.
Monday, August 7, 2006
A Pretty Damn Good Day...
So I did the Susquehanna 6 hour race today. It was hard. It went well for me, I was pleased with my ride. Here’s the story:
The Spot Brand/Twin Six train of death takes off after Rob Lictenwaler who is just flying. Spot Paul jumps on his wheel. The first section of the course has three short steep climbs. I will grow to hate them before the end. Matt (run forest) is leading a group containing me, Buddy the leg breaker, Gentle Ben Yoder, Matt (run forest) and dude in yellow and blue, and dude in white and blue. Buddy has a mechanical and is out of the group fixing it. We finish the first section and start the long field climb. Yellow and blue dude attacks hard and gaps the group. I say, “if he can go that hard all day, god bless. My bet is he’ll come back.” Matt sets a tough pace at the front, when the field opens up he pulls over to the side. Ben and I pull through.
Dude and blue and white attacks Ben and I on the climb. Quickly catch him on the downhill. I comment to Ben that he is vulnerable on the down, and we need to ply that. Next lap is a series of these downhill attacks. Ben and I swap out leading. I make a mental note; Ben is a far better decender than I am. End of lap 2 Ben pulls into his pit to reload. I keep going. I ride by myself for the 3rd lap. At the end of the third lap, I see yellow and blue dude and say to myself, “I thought he’d come back.” I pass him on the final climb of the lap, and open a gap on downhill to the finish. In the first section, he counters and attacks really hard; he’s out of the saddle throwing down. I think to myself, it’s way too early for that kind of attack. This dude, is strong, but it’s really early. In the field climb, I pass him, and open a gap. I don’t see him again. I’m a little worried about the pace of the race. Matt did 7 laps last year, it’s 2:36 into the race, I’ve finished 4 laps.
Race Rolls on smoothly. Feel good, keeping good tempo. Final climb of lap 5 I feel the twinge of a cramp. That’s bad. I go through the pit change camelbacks, Diane (chunky monkey) makes me eat some fig newtons, and I suck down half a coke. Lap six is my worst, I suffer badly cramping a lot on the open sections I try to massage my legs where they are cramping I drink as much water as I can stomach. Cramps keep coming, I start to punch my legs. This seems to help. I come through the start finish, and grab some e-caps from the food bin. Diane hands me another coke. The experts are ripping down the final hill as I climb up. Kyle calls me “mr. fats” lots of fatmarc cheers, that rules. Usually I would respond, but I’m so fried, I have a hard time muttering words on this climb.
I feel a little better, but anytime I have to grunt it out I feel the cramps set in. The first section is very hard from me, and I’m pushing the bike more than I have been. I catch Spot Paul in the first section and we ride together. Heading up the long field climb, he jumps in front of me. He is setting tempo, and orders me to ride his wheel up the climb. I’m hurting but get over this section quickly. Spot Paul leads me out into the single track and lets me rip. Have I mentioned that my teammates rule? I finish lap 8 with 1:10 to go. I smile at Diane and say, hey what are the chances I can do a 1:10 and still make the podium. She says, you know you’re gonna have to do a 9th. I take a swig of coke and reply, “I know” and I pedal off.
Coke the real thing. Amazing that this late in an endurance event and I want to drink is something that can clean the corrosion off your battery cables. Whatever. Rob Lichtwaler has lapped me. He rides with me, and tells me how great I am doing, and he’s totally stoked I’m on a single, here this guy is winning by, oh I don’t know 6 miles, and he wants to tell me how great I’m doing. I muscle up a step climb and he cheers me on. CLASS ACT. I admit I’m a hedgehog fan. I finally make it out of the first steep section and near the top of the field climb. My legs are cramping as badly as they have all day. I look back, hoping to see what I have seen the past 2 laps, open field.
Instead I see Big Ben, and he’s charging. I have had 2nd place since the 4th lap, and here, Ben is looking to steal this from me. Adrenaline shoots through my body; I stand up and attack the top of the field climb. I attack the rocky downhill as fast as I have all day. Earlier in the day, I felt I climbed the field better than Ben, but he clearly had the edge on the final 2 climbs, as he is way more powerful than I am. I tell myself If I can get over these two final climbs before him, I can hold him off. I start up the first one, pass Nicole Sheets. She’s in pink. Sweet, Maybe Ben will chase her down and expend too much energy too early. I make the final climb, long and rocky lots of water bars. I make it to the corner where I have dismounted each lap and start running with my bike. I hear Ben, I swear I can. I see orange and blue ghosts around the corner. I make the top, do my best cross remount and start pedaling; my legs feel like bricks, one more little rise until the downhill. My legs are cramping so bad I want to cry, I punch them, and drive up the final rise, I’m out of my saddle, my arms are cramping. I want this second place so bad. I crest the top, and scared for life, heartrate maxed, I look back. Ben is not there. I rip the final down hill until I make the final twisty section. I shut her down, I got this. I zip up the jersey and cross the finish line, so euro. The scorers congratulate me on a great ride, I tell them I think I’m gonna shit myself, which was a real fear. Less than a minute later, a hard charging Gentle Ben rolls in. He crosses the line and we hug each other. I told him he was lucky he was over 200lbs and could kick my ass, because I could punch him in the face for making me suffer so much during the last lap.
In the end, I finished in 2nd place, completed 9 laps for 54 miles in 6 hours and 22 minutes. Not too shabby for just some dude from Newark.
First, I was really proud of my team. We worked together, and everyone rode super well.
Buddy, Matt and Paul each completed 7 laps and came in somewhere in the top 15, results aren’t totally up. The story of the day was Amazin’ Andrew, who continues to gain form, and get stronger each week, working his ass off. 7th place today. Proudly, last night at dinner I called that shot, saying Andrew is riding so well, he’ll be top ten in the ss class. Mind you, Andrew is 55, and has been training for just 2 months after returning from a 2 month work trip to the artic circle. Freakin’ Amazing. Also props to as Matt (run forest) said our kinda step-teammate Jason (bikeman.com/twinsix) for another super strong effort, and another last second ditch effort to ensure he gets out for one more lap. Jason finished 9 laps today, and in I believe 6th place.
This should get him 2nd for the series I think. Very well done.
Secondly, mad props Ben Yoder. Know how much respect I have for you, and how strongly you are riding. Ben was one of the guys I wanted for the team, but the weekend I planned to talk to him, he showed up with a brand new seven ti single speed. What did I have to offer him? Anyway, I digress, Ben is a super dude, and I knew all day, that he was coming for me. He traditionally gets stronger and stronger as the season progresses, and is so damn dangerous this time of year. Thanks for making me work for this. Great stuff.
Next, I have been very critical of Brian and Anne Hess, and Jay O, for the MASS’s lack of having an elite single speed class. I still think it’s pretty ridiculous there’s a SUPER SPORT Class that has 4 dudes each week, and for this the elite single speed class was eliminated? I further mention, I know many of the promoters, who bust their asses to put on races, don’t want to pay out the elite ss class, Blah, Blah, Blah I don’t want to beat that dead horse, I have also been critical of the races the series promoters put on, as frankly they are generally the weakest in the series. Let me say this, Brian, Anne, Jay, all of the folks did an excellent job today, course was well marked, was a great course, and everything from my perspective flowed very well. Thank you for your hard work, even if there isn’t an elite single speed class. You should be super proud of how the race went down.
Finally, what gives ELK? you offer me a fresh pretzel at the start of my final lap, and the entire time I say to myself, man that pretzel is gonna be good. I get to the finish, and you have taken off? No Pretzel? I was truly heart broken.
Thanks to Spot Brand and TwinSix for all of their support. Thanks to Henry's Bikes for taking care of me, thanks to Howard Brown from Bike Line in Newark for the feeds, adn Meinrod too. Thanks to chunky monkey too. I am eternally grateful for the support I get from my wife, my team, my community.