Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Paving Old Roads
Note: The following is a recap from the State TT. A Gateway post is soon in coming. Hold on—its got video.
You’re sweating and wearing nothing but spandex. Suddenly, two big black arms grab you. Without speaking, a burly man escorts you behind stage. He takes you to the bathroom and grunts. As you go to close the door, he enters. And as you begin to fill the vial, you are instructed to turn around. Slowly, he begins to hum out a melancholy tune.
The year was 2006 and the scene was Seven Springs, PA. And despite the situation, I was smiling.
Earlier that day, I had been one of the last men off in the time trial. And when I crossed the line, the announcer was yelling my name triumphantly. I was sixth, he said. Quickly, I did the math. With only a handful of riders to start after me, I was assured a top ten result—at the Nationals TT.
Despite my ecstasy, I needed verification. So my mom went to check the results. As she returned, her face told all. I had not finished sixth. I was nowhere near the top ten.
Since that day, my relationship with time has been fundamentally altered. I no longer trust the clock.
But I still race to its ticking.
And the IL State TT was no exception. For the last two months, my goal was singular: Train to win the state title. Threshold intervals, aero tweaking, and dieting (haha, just kidding on that one) became the habit of my existence. I was dropped in crits, missed group rides and spent hours taping and working on my bike. It was all in the name of the clock.
And for several minutes this weekend, it looked as if all my efforts had not been in vain. Doug and Kaleb were following me in the Nazi-wagon. Through the windows they yelled out of megaphones and played into vuvuzelas. By the tone of their mingling voices, it was clear I was hauling.
And I was. At 20 K, the clock read something near 25:20.
For a brief few seconds, I was intoxicated with the moment. Every race ever won, every victory ever lost and every right turn ever botched gained meaning. It all was part of the plan.
But with the same inevitably of 2006, time told a different story. Suddenly, there was a hill on course. And the tailwind home section became a headwind. And the 30 k long course became 33.3 k.
Within sight of the finish, my four minute man dangled ahead of me. While I passed him, the rate of my approach was maddeningly slow. So I crossed the line—tears mingling with sweat.
And so we left without waiting for my time. I didn’t need to stay to consult the clock. At a later hour, the results would reveal the truth. Kaleb had won his race with a blitzing time.
And Scott. Well, he was second to a Mr. Bryce Mead.