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Reality Checks and Sending The Pain Below by Rich Pink
By Staff
Date: 5/17/2003
Reality Checks and Sending The Pain Below by Rich Pink

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 Rock.

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.

Rich Pink

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