Monday, May 29, 2006

Rio Grande Cup Team Time Trial

Well, yesterday was the Rio Grande Cup Team Time Trial and the New Mexico Outlaws fielded two three man teams. My team is pictured to the left. Ok, so those aren't actually our faces but come on, we are the New Mexico Outlaws! Anyhow, my team consisted of myself, Brian "Myles" Pilgrim, Chuck "Grumpy" Ritz and Mark "Crazy Eyes" Tretjenr aka Mr. T. I say my team because that's what you get to do when people work for you, right? Like "My Employees" I dare to make this presumption because I can assure you those two guys WORKED to pull me across the finish line. Actually, Grumpy did push me across but that's for later. I spent all day Saturday getting my bike prepped for the event.

The course was mostly flat with one or two big rollers, I don't quite recall since I was anoxic alomst the entire ride. The race kicked off at 10 am with teams starting at 2 minute intervals. The wind was already strong by start time with gusts blowing between 25 to 35 mph. This was my very first time trial, actually it was my first bike race. I started a century once but my tire blew apart at mile 19, that's another story though. Grumpy and Crazy Eyes are experienced cyclists.

At 10:06 the three amigos sped off down the course. Actually Grumpy and Crazy Eyes sped off, I opted instead to clip in on the right side and kick the hell out of my left pedal to give it that satisfying spin and wait for a second, third, fourth and fifth stab at clipping in. Finally clipped in I powered after them catching up pretty quickly. We headed out nice and smooth planning on rotating for 60 second pulls with the instruction to wait 15 seconds before deciding to accelerate. We began in a straight pace line and the drafting was good, we moved smoothly and the pulls were nice and even. The first, and possibly only hill, was just a few hundred meters off the start line and I ended up with my first or second pull taking place right about at the crest, which meant I got to lead the speedy decent. We hit around 35 mph comming off the back side of the hill getting buffeted by the wind somewhat. Once we hit the flats we kept motoring along at something like 27 mph and were still working smoothly. I don't know how far into the 28 mile race, 14 out and 14 back, I made it as an effective member of the team but I know it wasn't far. I started falling off the back and Grumpy and Crazy Eyes noticed right away and started to slow and coach me through the oxygen deprivation. The thing about this race was that the team time was measured by the third rider to cross the finish line. Having only the three of us meant that we all had to stay together. Much of the rest of the race consisted of Grumpy and Crazy Eyes doing their best to block the wind while I did my best to hold onto their wheels. I was sucking wind something fierce but I was determined to at least make sure I tapped every reserve I had for the team's sake and for the sake of someone else, but that's for later too. Near the end of the ride it was as if I awoke from a fog and decided I had the nenrgy to pull at least one more time, I knew the other two had to have been whipped. I did get in one last 60 second pull and to the best of my knowledge I didn't let the pace falter though at the end of the pull I think I almost ran over my team by pulling out to the left while we were in an echelon left formation. I should have just dropped straight back but I was delirious by this time. Being delirious I also got this crazy notion in my head that I would sacrifice myself for the two men who had pulled me through the race. I must have been thinking it would be a nice surprise present because I didn't mention my plan to anyone. Instead when we crested the final hill, the one a few hundred meters from the start/finish line, I let out a wild yell, lept out of the saddle and poured every ounce of strength I had into my cranks. Apparently I just took off like a rocket leaving my teammates in the dust to curse my name and rue the day they ever conceived of taking me out in public. Well, that bit of personal glory was short lived when I realized that the finish line was not actually 100 or 200 meters away but more like 1000 to 1500 meters away. My legs finally imploded and my teammates caught me in short order and then had to start pulling me to the finish line....again. With the line safely 10 or 15 obvious meters away I gave it another valiant try and poured it on one last time. I was traveling at such a dazzling velocity by this time that Grumpy was barely able to catch me and literally hurl me across the finish line with a mighty push, you know, slingshot style.

I am kidding you not, I was completely slap happy after that race, completely spent...and you know what...I LOVED IT! All the rest of that day I kept replaying the brief glimpses I had of the race, or us ridding in echelon right, echelon left, almost side by side at some points. I also kept wondering at the skill and support of my teammates. Thanks Grumpy, Thanks Mr. T. To top it all off, we won the open division with a time of just over 1 hour 10 minutes, not bad for a group of triathletes ridding 28 miles across a wind swept open plain.

Last but not least, there is a very special reason why I was willing to blow out every resource and my teammates were willing to show such determined loyalty. We rode this race with a fellow Outlaw in our hearts, our dear friend Len "Pretzel" Piazza who was pulled from a race last week with dizzyness only to discover he has a brain tumor sitting up against his brain stem.

We love you Pretzel! Fortitudine Vincimus my friend.

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