Monday, March 31, 2014


     Having a State Finals is March is much too early, but with a dearth of sponsors or host organizations we are happy to have any at all.  That is also why I was so pleased that Beaumont and Brazos Valley were in February. Even with the early time and unforgiving weather zapping my preparations, I felt more ready than last year.
     Let me say this about folks who volunteer at events such as this.  No matter what, you won't hear me saying unkind words about them.  We have all been volunteers of one sort or another.  That being said, we move on to my first adventure, the 10k time trial on Saturday, at Texas Research Park just west of San Antonio.  My start time was 9:10am, so in order to have an unhurried warm-up and so forth, I arrived at 7:45am.  That meant leaving home at 5:45am, which meant a 4am wake-up.  No problem.  All went well, according to plan.
     The course is a two and a half mile loop, so we went one full loop and most of the way around a second time before making a U-turn and coming back to the finish, right at 3.1 miles.  I arrived at the start line on time, to find that the person who I knew to be faster did not make his scheduled start.  I was pretty sure now I would medal.  We had the option to have someone hold us so we could get both feet clipped into the pedals, or not.  Us fast guys always opt to be held.  There were three teenagers tasked as holders, and I observed the one who held Dean gave him a nice shove at the word "go."  He was not the one who held me.  I knew I was in trouble when his idea of upright was about ten degrees tilted to the right.  I tried to get it corrected, but he was quite firm so I dealt with it.  Ten seconds to go, I back-pedaled to have my left foot in the correct push position.  Five seconds, then "Go!" and I raised up out of the saddle and pushed.  Nothing happened.  The young man did not let go of my saddle.  I started to fall to the right, moved my right pedal and the calf started to cramp!  Giving out with an expletive, and somehow remaining upright, he finally let go, and I started moving.
One more mental expletive, and I settled into a rhythm.   Ah, well, things happen.  It seemed at though the wind was in my face three-quarters of the loop.  But I felt in control the whole way and finished strong.  It wasn't until times were posted that I saw my nemesis beat me by seven seconds!  They apparently gave him a later start.  Perhaps I would have gone faster if I knew he was in the mix, perhaps being held at the start was enough to keep me from winning.  If a frog had wings.....
     Sunday started the same way, in that I drove home after the race, so had to return for the 5k time trial and 40k road race.    I can't get it going in the 5k, and the wind was stronger and out of the SE this time.  Nothing happened, it was an uneventful dash and turned out the same, with me coming in second.  But I still claim to be the fastest from Texas, since the winner is from Missouri.
     The 40k started at 11am, and the original ten guys had dropped to seven.  Both Stanton and Fred are faster than me, but truthfully, I only do the 40k as good training so never have expectations.  But fate stepped in.  Missouri didn't race and the wind picked up.  I was the only guy who hadn't raced the 20k on Saturday.  Stanton and Fred are both quite confident in their sprint, and with a strong headwind, neither were inclined to lead the paceline or to make a single attack (which would have been suicide).  I took the lead on the backside hill, which had the wind at my back.  I figured we would all do a little suffering at the head, rotating through.  When we made the turn and started into the wind, nobody rotated through.  I thought that was a little unkind, but since I was suffering a tad, just settled into a nice, slow pace and still nobody wanted any part of the wind.  So I lead for a whole lap and a bit more.  Finally, with the wind again at our back, they started coming through.  We dropped one of us on the hill, but I hung on.
     But Fate threw us a life preserver in the form of a "young" guy, who was dropped from the 60-64 group.  They had started behind us by several minutes, and passed us.  When they accelerated up the hill, he couldn't keep up.  But we caught him, and rather than pass, just tucked in behind.  He had no chance of catching up with his guys, and even just cruising, was going at a pace we were comfortable with.  Now, he could have sat up, then tagged on to the back of our paceline, but he chose to lead us around the loop, into and out of the wind.  He did this until right at the end, six or seven loops.  If any of our guys had thrown in an attack on the hill, I suspect I would have waved goodbye and soldiered on solo.  But they didn't.
     Even as we approached the last turn and started lining up for the sprint, I still didn't feel up to it.  But now another young guy, who we had passed but who did tag along, came up to sprint with us.  He was really, really, big.  I was able to wind up the rpms sheltered behind Mr. Big, and with about 100 meters to go, launched my attack.  Stanton and Fred jumped also, but I quickly passed the others and came in third, only a few bike lengths behind the winner. 
     I wasn't surprised at my finish sprint.  Indeed, I sprinted to gold in the Senior Games State Finals in Houston several years ago (2010).  Maybe I should find a coach and learn how to train and race properly.  Man can't live on time trials alone.

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