Monday, April 6, 2009

Déjà vu

Everything seemed to be going great. The weather was fabulous sunny skies with temps in the mid 60’s. What more can you ask for? Well to answer my own question a fresh pair of legs would have come in handy… but wait I am getting ahead of my self.

Joe, Nikki, my wife Lydia and I got up that day nice and early. The sun was already shinning brightly and was clear to us this was going to be great weather for racing. After going to local eatery for a quick breakfest, we got back to suit up for the race. The biggest problem for me was not to overdress which is a common problem for me. We (Joe and I) headed for the race to register which was only a mile away thanks to Lydia’s great hotel pick. On the way Joe and I were each caring a spare wheel for the race. As we rode on the pave or cobble section I noticed a skewer nut fall off what I thought was Joe’s bike. I immediately yelled to him”stop and get off that bike your skewer is going to come off”
Joe quickly pulled over and checked his bike. Luckily the nut belonged to the spare wheel he had and not to the bike he was riding. This was clearly an omen of sorts. The cycling gods were warning us. But we just shrugged it off and seemed to thumb our noses at them. As if to say “we are here and nothing can stop us.” Little did we know… little did we know.

Registration went fairly smoothly, kudos to Hillsboro they always run a tight ship.
As we lined up, the first thing I noticed was the size of our group. The cat 4 s had 100 max riders however I think only about 85 riders showed. As we started, the pace was very calm but as we made the second turn off the double lane road onto the one lane. The pace immediately kicked up to 26 mph. the peloton was tight and nerves were on edge. Being in the 2nd half of the peloton, riders were breaking and causing a snake-like effect. Within 5 miles I narrowly avoided two near crashes. I couldn’t even scratch my forehead for fear of crashing. The pace was steady and brisk. I felt comfortable and eager to move up the peloton. After about 15 miles, I decide to look back and check on Joe. To my amazement Joe was gone. I immediately realized something had gone wrong. My suspicions were realized afterwards when Joe told me that just like last year( déjà vu) he dropped his chain coming out of the turn. He told me by the time he got his chain back on, the peloton surge had put him too far behind. I wish he would have called out I would have waited for him. We could have both worked to get back. Unfortunately, Joe rode the rest of the race by himself, but he hung in there and finished. Way to go Joe!!!

As the pelaton was coming back to the start/finish, I knew from last year, two major climbs were coming up. The feed zone climb was very long and steep however the pelaton was pretty neutral. I looked down and noticed I was averaging about 170 bpm on the climb which was very reasonable. I figured get past this climb and recover on the other side and get ready for the final climb into the start/finish. As we were coming down, I felt the pelaton surging to the next climb; I knew I was in serious trouble my heartrate kept climbing instead of recovering for the next climb. By the time I hit the climb I was in the 180’s bpm I tried not to panic but there was not much I could do. I hit the wall on the climb and immediately saw flashbacks of last year (hence déjà vu) where I got dropped last year. I was on my own and thought if I can try to work with any body I could to get back to the pelaton. A couple of miles down I caught up to a XXXer and passed him by saying “jump on lets work together”. He was happy to see someone eager to catch up to the pack. I didn’t get his name but if your reading this “thanks brother” it was good riding with you. We kept trading off pulls and I could still see the pelaton about 1 mile away, but sadly it just got farther and farther and you could see riders just dropping off.
As I headed back in for my final climbs, the race had taken its toll on me. I could feel my legs cramp up, and my biggest fear was not finishing. On my way up the final climb I saw one racer walking his bike up inch by inch with the bike between his legs. I quickly thought it could always be worst. I thanked God he had given me the ability to finish. Afterwards I thanked my wife for supporting me even though she was ill. I will be back next year for my revenge stay tuned. Hopefully Joe can keep his chain on as well!


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