I like Mr. Pain. He and I hang out a lot, he always accepts my invitations to
go hang out in Sufferville and get drunk on lactic acid, leer at endless fields
of whatever is surrounding these rural road courses, and contemplate just how
much pressure the body, organs, and mind can take before it overloads and either
vomits horribly, or simply breaks down altogether. We like to party together
most nights. I say "Hey, Mr. Pain, whaddya say we go to this silly road race in
Wisconsin, and gets our nuts kicked in?" And Mr. Pain usually immediately shoots
back with, "I'm there." And so we pile our stuff into the car, dare to think
about good, maybe even stellar results, then drive for 2 hours to go to the
Mecca of production bikes (Trek) and get whaled on all day. And so it was.
Yep. Trek town, Waterloo, Wisconsin. An interesting main factory they have
there. I was thinking, this being my first trip there, that it would be
palatial, with golden arches, nymphs and fairies singing tunes of worldwide
production bike market stranglehold, but it was not. The building looked to me
as though it were an alien spaceship having crash landed in rural Wisconsin
behind a soccer field. Oh well, I like their bikes. They're good folk, and they
do good things like putting on races where I can have my innards contorted like
so many circus balloon animals. Any of you who read bits of last years drivel
have come to know that myself and the state of Wisconsin are "estranged". I know
not it's thoughts of me these days, but I know how I feel about it: I hate it.
Every time I ever set wheel to pavement within its borders, I am in for a large
scale whooping. No respite. Ever. Never done well in that damn state (nor have
my beloved Bears in recent years) but yet I made another pilgrimage to the land
of cheese for my first road race of the 03 season.
With just one crit under my belt, and sporadic training due to the usual
severe springtime travel load for work, I lined up with new teammates Kevin and
Tim, along with 44 other hopefuls under an almost warm sun in Trektown to battle
30 miles over 5 laps of rolling hills. Yep, they call them rolling, I called
them Everest, Fuji, Ventoux, and Sestriere. You see folks, I am not a climber (I
hear Python: "The Llama is not a creature of the air...), in fact I loathe and
fear, in equal parts, the wicked phenomena known as Gravity. Somehow though, I
think somewhere between Mr. Pain and Gravity, there is some collusion afoot.
Bastards. I doth not protest too much...I just know those two are up to
something, especially after today. These "rolling hills" (read: two choices, up
or down) had their way with me like so many ribald invading soldiers.
I had it good for the first few runs around the circuit, holding my own,
trying to move up to block for my guys, both of whom could win races like these.
But then the pace started skipping, and it was a rather odd transformation. Gone
was the elastic stretching you normally see with accelerations among the pack.
It'd hot up (say it like PHIL!) and the entire pod would move quicker en masse.
As we ramped, the weaker riders started falling off the back like so many
droplets off the bottom of a wet ball. Bloop. Bye. Bloop. So long, pal. Bloop.
Nice knowing ya.
What? My turn is coming up? No, come on, it's only half way through the race,
certainly my turn isn't up yet!? Yeah, my turn was coming up. The hills started
hurting more and more. My teammates were ahead of me somewhere, and upon
cresting one of the bigger "rollers," I saw two distinct groups formed ahead of
me. I started swearing internally. As usual. I missed the break because I didn't
see it happen, but even if I had, I had nowhere near the legs needed to make
those moves on those kind of inclines, uh uh, no way, not me. That course was
hillier and windier than a fat woman after a chili cook-off.
The little group I settled in had some cool guys who knew how to just ride
together, pull through, and get through it, seing as we were out of it - there
was no fighting back up a gap like that in wind like this; and it had some guys
who would take a pull, go to the back and take a breather, then shoot up and
either pull hard out of turn, or flat out attack. This sort of behavior in the
laughing group is abhorrent to me. I do not get it. I meant to question or at
least admonish, but I had neither the will, inclination, or breath to make the
sentences fight their way out of the drool in my yap.
We did somehow bridge up to the next group, which had my mate Kevin in it,
who had also missed the decisive break, and we rolled in together. Kev rocked it
into a spint, a few followed. I just kind of diddled the pedals and rolled over
the line while shaking the hand of one of the riders who I had worked well with
in the group. My other teammate Tim had hung tough as usual with the front
group, and ended up with 7th place, nice work, hotshot. Thanks for the Rolling
It was an exercise in suffering like I knew it would be, but what the hay, I
sent the pain below just like the song says. Tomorrow, back to where I belong,
crits in Illinois. Park Forest. Flat. Chicane. Speed and inherent danger, my
favorite place to be. Report soon to follow.
Here We GO.