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Wisconsin 3, Rich Pink 0
By Janna Trevisanut
Date: 6/25/2002
Wisconsin 3, Rich Pink 0

Iím not really sure what it is about the state of Wisconsin that seeps into my blood and destroys me from the inside out every time I traverse it atop a bicycle. Three weeks ago in Madison I choke late in the race to squander what could have been my first victory. Then, on all those training rides up to scenic Lake Geneva, I usually end up having my lunch handed to me (read: get crushed) from several elements. And now this latest debacle: a complete implosion on the slopes of some of southern Wisconsinís most beautiful hills. Iím guessing somewhere along the line my hatred for their football team, my utter disgust at their driving abilities, and my spot-on impression of their northern regionís accents have perturbed the Wisconsin gods, and my pennance comes in the form of intense suffering on my faithful aluminum steed. Maybe if I take a shine to Brett Favre, or resist the Chicago-born instinct to extend my middle digit when passing one of their Ďdistractedí drivers, or in general try to quell an Illinoisanís inbred contempt for our neighbors to the north, perhaps I can get some luck there. Time will tell as I take to their streets again this coming Saturday, to contest the Wisconsin State Criterium Championship in Elkhorn.

However, last Saturday it was the little unincorporated town of Spring Prairie that played host to the traveling lycra circus. I was eager to return to the course that last year (in my second ever race) rearranged my insides (read: got crushed). Of course, putting it all into perspective, last year I was heavier, smoked cigarettes, drank too much et al, but this year, having 12 months smoke free and training my eyes out, I was geared for a good showing. The field was a mix of 4ís and 5ís so I knew a great finish was questionable, but i thought for sure I would at least finish. Again, my team mate Dave was with me so that even bolstered me further, having a mate in the bunch. This race had an odd rule, they had a very VERY strict anti-public urination policy. It wasnít like we were in a city or anything, this rural 6 mile loop course had maybe at best 10 houses on it but apparently, before my time, someone had answered the call of nature too close to one of the townís grannies, and all hell broke loose and threats of pulling the race were bandied about. The registration folks were screaming it as a reminder as the racerís picked up their numbers "No public peeing, or weíll throw you out!" Some races just turn a blind eye to the fella whoís tucked into the nearby foilage to relieve himself. I highly doubt there will come a day when someone of sound mind and body exposes his shortcomings in full view of the elderly on purpose before a race. Of course, in order to offset the eventual tinkling..... here in Spring Prairie they were good enough to supply two port-o-potties (note the sarcasm). 300 racers pumped full of gu, water, extran, fruit, and more water,......and two port-oís. Egads. Did I mention it was 92 degrees farenheit in the morning? And there was another rule, although this one is more commonplace but here was poorly enforced : the dreaded yellow line rule. For those not in the know, sometimes races donít have the luxury of completely owning the roads itís held on, so instead they share the road with the local folk by only racing in one lane of traffic. Usually in most races riders respect this but in this race, as soon as the gun went off, I stopped counting after I saw 9 guys scooting up in the pack by crossing the yellow line. Oh well. It turned out those advancements werenít going to effect me in the slightest.

The first stretch of flat road came to an end in the form of a right turn, which then went up a steady one mile climb. The winds had kicked up by race time, and the temperature was more like late July than late June, settling in at a toasty 94 degrees before it was all over. In making that turn, I began to notice twinges coming from my thighs. Iím not talking about teenage backseat twinges, Iím talking about stop-the-car-now kind of twinges. I notice riders going by me, but Iím still sure Iím mid pack. Now my legs began to full on seize as I try to counter the slight increase in speed as the climb progresses. For some reason I shift my mindís eye to the heat on my back from the afternoon sun. "Man, itís hot today," I think to myself and before I know it, by the end of the climb, Iím off the back. I try in vain to get out of the saddle and chase down the group only a few lengths ahead of me but my legs are full of sand now, and Iím sweating like a racehorse. Red lining my ticker before the climb is over, I sit back down and resign myself to trying to limit the gap by riding within myself. Too bad the only thing that could fit Ďinside myselfí would be a flea and some bread crumbs at best by that point. My legs continue their protests and I soon come to realize that this will not be a normal day at the office. I wheeze like an old dog trying to climb some stairs, Iím blinded by the sweat pouring into my eyes, and then come the neo-hallucinations. I fall victim to these sometimes when Iím on the verge of spectacular failures, itís an aversionary tactic I use without thinking about it, an almost dreamlike Hollywood state where all sorts of images are conjured and played out in my head. First I string together a slide show of all of the silver screenís best explosions, akin to my own happening on that road that day in the middle of nowhere. The Death Star goes first BOOM!, then that unfortunate fellowís head in the B-grade horror flick ĎScannersí BOOM! Then, the side of the mountin in the classic ĎGuns of Navaroneí BOOM BOOM BOOM! Then I see trains derailing, buildings toppling, Cindy marrying Bobby, and a host of other cataclysmic visions. By the time Iíve finished my sidestepping of reality, I see that now Iím completely alone. I look back and see that thereís one other dude whoís been so unfortunate to have blown up worse than me. I wondered what kind of movies were playing in his head. I sit up and wait for him-not hard to do as the wind stopped me almost immediately-and we decide to work together, shaking our heads in disbelief at our respective destruction at the end of each pull. We make it a few more laps, alone, out of sight of the peloton and by the end weíre riding side by side, telling stories and hypothesizing as to why we sucked that day. I chalk mine up to overtraining and a poor warm up. He chalks his up to being old and fat. Fair enough. I draw my thumb across my throat as I pass the ref (good thing itís not the NFL where this motion is verboten!) and calmly dump my bike back by my vehicle. I never see my "death partner", as I refer to him in retrospect, again.

Dave scoots by in 7th place, doing very, VERY well for himself in a tough field. He tries to console me a bit, but consolation from a 20 year old is like financial advice from a sixth grader. He is a great dude though, and heís gonna be fierce when he goes up in rank, having ditched his silly mountain bike fetish. I had best reconcile with Wisconsin right quick, as Superweek looms on the horizon. For more on what Superweek is, go to Ė itís a two week non stop racing affair which is attended by European pros racing in the 30+ ranks and every single one of the races is in - you guessed it Ė Wisconsin. Next week I have an opportunity to tune up in the aforementioned crit in the land of cheese (Wisconsin). Now if youíll excuse me, I have to go train harder...

Thank you sincerely for reading, and thank you to those who send me emails. Itís awful nice, and a touch surprising, to hear from so many of you near and far.

Keep writing, feel free.

Rich Pink

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