Sunday, August 15, 2010

Tom Kenny's Cat 5 Road Race report.

“The Last Lap”

I had a lot to worry about before the RR this weekend. Is the course going to be good enough? Did I remember all the signs and paper work? Did I bring enough brooms to sweep the course with? Why is that little patch of skin beside ‘the fellas’ so raw? I certainly didn’t eat well enough. Where is my smelly jersey from the ITT?

By the time me and the crew went around the course, laid out the appropriate signs (someone had graciously swept the corners already) it was nearly time for the race to start. Hurry, hurry, get my numbers on, where are my spare wheels? Put the pedals on, throw some powder into a water bottle and off to the start line. Phew! Crap, I forgot my sunglasses. Off to the start line aaaaand wait.

I’m cold, nervous, and that raw patch of skin beside ‘the boys’ does not like being on the seat. The joviality of the group was good. After a season of racing plus the Wednesday night races, I felt a good camaraderie had formed regardless of the color of jersey you had on. To me, this is what makes racing fun.

The official gives us the final instructions: don’t crash, two laps and don’t eat yellow snow.

Finally, we’re off. I’m near the back. It’s slow, very slow. There’s some sort of doodle fest going on at the front. Guys exchanging phone numbers, playing tiddly winks, I don’t know but I’m cold, both legs and body, so I make my way to the edge and fire it up. I just needed to warm up. Remember, I’m old and going hard too soon could hurt. I could rip a hamstring off, tear a calf, snap a femur or something.

I didn’t mean to get out so far ahead of the pack, but there I was a half a kilometer ahead of the group. I could hear them giggling (I’m kind of used to that) ‘leave him out there’ I’m sure they said. The thought briefly crossed my mind; if I put the hammer down I could be well ahead of them at the hills. However, when I looked back, they were starting to gain and I would be pretty cooked by the time I got to the hills all by my lonesome. So I waited for the pack… they were still giggling. Off we went.

I fully expected to see the pack disintegrate on the first set of hills.
I had only one hope. I needed to push the pace without killing myself and hopefully fatigue some of the bigger guns. This plan would actually work if I were, in fact, stronger than the rest of the guys. Reality would set in later.

Lots of folks were up front working so I felt pretty good about being up there on occasion. My glory moment was being out front crossing the finish line on the first lap with Trev taking photos. I must have looked good eh!? Well, maybe not, but it made me feel good. Lots of the boys were taking turns up front keeping the pace reasonable but not fast. There was the odd surge but never any attacks. I think the fear of the Bergen Hills kept anyone from attempting to burn up their legs too early.

This is where you need to use your imagination. I’ve started visualizing my body using gages and warning lights. Think of the tachometer on your car: 1 for lungs, 1 for heart, 1 for legs. There’s lights underneath them; green, yellow red. My stomach has a series of lights as does my left knee and there’s a fuel gauge that can pop up on longer rides. Now that you have that in your head, here’s the last part of my report.

The tour up to the NE corner was pretty easy. All the gauges were under the red line, all lights green, all systems were ‘GO’.
We came to the first kicker before the feed lot, short, sweet and fast. At the top of the hill I was beginning to suffer. Lungs were at full capacity, HR was touching the red line. The lead boys began to ease off so I kept the hammer down on the little flat spot before the next hill. (I’ve read you’re supposed to do, but for god sake it’s hard to do!)

The next hill came and the gang kept pushing hard. Gages were in the red and warning lights began to move from green to yellow as I tried to keep with the group.

A reprieve came on the downhill before the corner. All systems were back ‘on line’ and I was ready for what was likely to be a very long sprint.

Knowing I don’t have the same horse power as some of the boys, I moved up towards the front. The 1km sign was coming into view and I fully expected the pack to make a surge… I was correct.

The pack began to swarm around me. I recognized a few of them as they passed me…. damn sprinters.

I dropped into the small chain ring (I’m sure a real man would have kept it in the big ring but my huge, bulky quads wanted something easy).


All gages were instantly at red or above the red line. My lungs were at full capacity. Someone (Jim) was on my back wheel. I couldn’t have that so I put in a couple of extra hard strokes. He’s still there! We’re coming to the top of the big hill. Warning lights have all gone red (they skipped the yellow light stage). I felt like I was at the back of the pack with so many guys ahead of me. I moved back into the big chain.

Back to your imagination: The computer voice - you know the one in movies, where the computer has a hot chicks voice telling you that you’re about to be eaten by an alien? Here we go.

The Voice: “Lungs have exceeded capacity. Your heart rate is now at 105% of maximum. Imminent failure in 1 minute”

There’s a guy 15 feet ahead of me… I can catch him! Hard on the pedals!

e voice: “ Legs are no longer receiving oxygen, do you want me to shut them down?”

My head: “Shut up, catch that guy!”

Alarms are going off like the cockpit of an airplane with no engines left. Red lights are flashing everywhere, all the gauges are pinned….

The voice: “Imminent fail of all systems in T minus 10 seconds” (what does the T stand for anyhow?)

One guy ahead of me, I can catch him! I threw everything I had into my legs. I think I actually stopped breathing and my heart may have stopped functioning for a few seconds. I don’t know if I caught that last guy. It was right at the line and either my eyes were closed or I was about to pass out.

e Voice: “You’re an idiot”.

I was breathing so hard so that I was making all sorts of funny sounds. I was wheezing, and making a gurgling noise that I’m sure is part of a medical condition yet to be discovered.

The race was over. I had dug deep into the suitcase of courage, or is that the briefcase of despair, or maybe the locker of hurt?…whatever, I had dug deep into something.. and it felt good.

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