TWO More Wins …And Then The Bottom Fell Out

16 Jun

debhelewinnersDeb DuBois and her daughter, Helen, competed in the duathlon portion of the Eagle Creek Triathlon on Saturday. Both came away victorious with Helen winning first place overall in the female division. Deb took top honors in her age group. Great job Deb and Helen!

Mike Garrison recently competed in the Odyssey Wild Wonderful 24 Hour Adventure Race near the New River Gorge area of West Virginia. Mike and his teammate completed 15 miles of whitewater paddling, 70 miles of mountain biking, and 20 miles of trekking/running in 23.5 hours. (My hands got tired just from typing that!) Complicating matters, Mike’s teammate suffered two flats inside the final 4 miles. The duo overcame the flats however, as his teammate changed into running shoes and hoofed the final miles pushing her mountain bike. Great job to Mike and his teammate!

Remember that ride at King’s Island where the you spin around faster and faster until the floor drops out and you are stuck to the wall? The bottom has definitely fallen out here in the past two weeks. June has never been a particularly good month for me. Like clockwork, every year just after Memorial Day I come down with a mysterious fatigue. I dunno… My best guess is that something I am allergic to blooms and I am adversely affected. Some years, the fatigue has lasted for weeks, well into July.

Knowing that I was in the throes of one of those fatigue deals I raced anyway at the Carmel grand prix on June 1. Had I been coaching any of you and you’d said that you woke feeling shaky and jittery, I’d have strongly encouraged you not to race. (Do as I say, not as I do). Despite the lethargy I managed to remain in the mix most of the race. That is probably due more to the small field than any will power I may have mustered. Local races continue to draw very small numbers to Masters races. Todd Hancock, a decorated and well traveled former pro racer, took the victory.

One of the races I targeted for this year was the O’Fallon Grand Prix in O’Fallon, IL. The event includes a 13.1 mile TT on Friday night, a 54 mile RR on Saturday and an age appropriate crit. on Sunday. This event is well organized and features low traffic, rolling courses suitable for crowning all around champions. Drawing riders from Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee, the fields are very competitive.

I was still feeling the heavy fatigue early in the week and had conceded that I would not race this weekend…, until Tuesday night when I mustered the energy to do the Nebo Training ride. For better or worse (most definitely worse), I had a good ride that night and came away with a false sense of well being for the weekend, thus going ahead and registering for the stage race.

I had planned to simply ride my road bike for the TT as I don’t put enough emphasis on those, anyway. However, friend Brian Murphy suggested I borrow his TT bike for the two stage races I’ve targeted this season. Great in theory, not so good in the details. Brian is taller than me and as such, his bike is too big. I cannot reach the front end without compromising my saddle position. Needless to say, time trials on this thing so far have been labored and compromised.

Furthermore, life even gave me the sign of signs to leave the bike home for this weekend when the rear deraillure shifter broke loose Thursday night on the rough roads in Eagle Creek Park. I jerry rigged the shifter with electrical tape and hoped I’d make it through the TT on Friday. During warm ups the shifter came loose, but not so bad that I could not shift. Naturally, during the actual TT, the shifter came unhinged, preventing further shifting, and I was stuck in the 14 cog in back. Not the best place to be for a light gear spinner on a rolling course with a couple of mild Fishback climbs to boot.

I finished a dismal 12th of 14 in the TT with a time of 33:06. Let me be clear; I had no illusion of winning a TT. I had a modest goal of 31:00. The winner was 29:16 and the 2nd place was 30:09. A handful of others came in under 31:00. I often remind you guys to trust those little signs life gives us. Here again, is another example of paying attention. I did not heed my own advice and I offered up the perfect example of what NOT to do.

The RR was the Illinois State RR championship so a decent sized group showed up for the 45+ field. Summer like heat finally arrived as well. The friendly face of Mark Sills, Scarlet Fire, greeted me at the start line. Mark asked me how I was feeling and I bluffed, saying I felt ok when I really was not. But I had registered and I was here, so I gave what I had to the race. Clearly, it was not enough.

David Stone of Scarlet Fire attacked right at the start of the race, taking two others with him. With the three up the road I figured somebody or some team would take up the chase. Instead, everyone sat there, due in part to the heat and also due to the 4 other Scarlet Fire team members hoping someone would launch them to an attack. Guess who that fool was – or tried to be? Still early in the race I took a hard dig and brought the three to well within reasonable striking distance and then I let up, having set it up for someone to close it down. Nope. The three opened an even larger gap from there.

Meanwhile, being a stubborn cuss, rather than sitting in, I took pulls in hopes of encouraging others to form a pace line that might begin a chase. And everywhere I went, there was Sills right on my wheel. He was doing exactly what a good teammate should do and I commend him for his hard efforts. He was even gracious in saying had there not been one of his teammates up the road, he’d have willingly worked with me to try and escape the vice-like grip of the peloton. But in essence, I wasted what little energy I had all in the first 22 mile loop. On lap two another Scarlet Fire rider attacked 3 times in a row, putting a sting into the legs of the peloton. About a third of the way through lap two I paid for my lap 1 lack of discretion when I felt the bottom fall out. The rotor was spinning, I was exhausted, legs began cramping, and I had to let off the gas, letting the pack go.

Apparently, there was a reshuffling of the front group as two riders who’d remained in the pack, Rob Landes and Gene Tolli, finished 1st and 2nd, respectively. Stone hung on for a hard earned 3rd.

I woke up Sunday morning to rain and the familiar shakiness that attends this fatigue. Rather than dig myself into a deeper hole, I skipped the crit. and headed for home. It is humbling to make so many mistakes by going against the very grain I so often preach to all of you; I often remind all of you guys to take recovery seriously and don’t force yourself into action when your body is telling you not to. That advice comes from a deep, deep well of experience and once again, I am just as fallible as anyone.  In time, the rotor will slow and the floor will rise; other races still loom on the horizon.


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