Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Cornhusker State Games

My 2010 racing season is going to conclude with the Cornhusker State Games time trial out of Yutan. I have to do it. It's the last year I can enter the mens Cat5 18-34 event. Next year they put me out to pasture with the other 35-44 year olds.

I've participated in the last three men's Cat5 events under the impression that I would improve every year.


Let's look at my past 3 attempts at this race.

2007: 1h15m

I had started a new job in June of '07, and a company wide email circulated: my employer would pay for entries in the Cornhusker State Games. I had a late 1980s Cannondale road bike I had picked up secondhand in high school and had done some racing with (and failed miserably at). It was a great deal of fun to ride and I took it out on the highways every so often just to feel that wind.

I could get from the south Wal-Mart to Palmyra and back in one hour and ten minutes the weekend before the games.

And then I'd light up a Winston Light.

I entered the games, the participant pack came inter-office.

I had a monster nic fit as I lined up at the starting line, figuring the withdrawls would push me through. I finished in 1h15m, a distant 10m after the winner of the Cat5 mens 18-34.

I quit smoking that October. I was backing my car out of the driveway one morning, looked in the pack I had stashed in the door pocket and saw that I had 3 left and that I would need to go to the store and stopped myself: "WHY?"

Those were my last three cigarettes. (Well, there were a couple of times when a cig just sounded good with beer and I would slip, taste the stale ash in my mouth and wonder what I was thinking, etc. Now I just drink flavorful beer, flavors which would be ruined by cigarettes.)

2008: 1h31m

In late May 2008 I bought an '07 Specialized Allez Elite Double from Scheels. Total impulse purchase. My daughter was starting Tee Ball. She's a Lefty. They don't sell Lefty ball gloves at the Target by my house, but they have them at Scheel's near work.

I looked to the left when I walked in and remarked that they had bikes. Half expecting to see a collection of Schwinn and Pacific Cycle bikes, I took a look anyways. They have road bikes? Specialized? Really? This one is on sale? It's how little? I took it for a test ride. Whoa, my old Cannondale feels like riding a jackhammer by comparison!

I left without the bike but with the ball glove.

I came back that Friday and bought the bike.

July 2008, I had logged a couple hundred miles on my new toy, had quit smoking and was ready to take home a medal. I felt sooooooooooo good on that bike.

I got my tires aired up, took the bike off the back of the car, took my cargo shorts and sweatshirt off and looked in the car. I was horrified: I forgot my shoes. I was wearing a pair of running shoes. SPD pedals are tiny little things. If my feet weren't going to slip off, they were going to be numb. This was going to end badly.

I had decided that looking at my cyclecomputer's current speed would be a deterrent, so I left it off. I went and got some warmups done in downtown Yutan before taking off. My feet were wobbly, but I managed to find a bit of stride, but still had no confidence in my pedal stroke.

During the race I had regained some of my confidence as I eased it into the big ring and started climbing gears when the course turned flat. I maintained a slow cadence to keep my unclipped feet on the pedals. I felt that wind in my ears and the air filling my lungs. My legs felt as bad ass as AC/DC guitar riffs and more powerful than a Hennessey Viper. I was catching up to someone. Oh yeah!

Oh no: My front tire went flat just after the turnaround. My numb feet did not like making contact with the ground. My shaking hands fumbled with the front tire. Then my feet came back online and my hands went calm. I got it put back together about 7 minutes later.

I got back on the bike and felt deflated. Someone took the AC/DC out of my legs and put on some Air Supply, the Viper replaced with a 1987 Yugo. I simply told myself I wasn't coming home with a DNF: so just ride, take in the scenery, grab an ear of corn as a souvenir: there's plenty laying on the side of the road.

Nah, I don't need the corn.

The most embarassing moment came when it was time for medals to be awarded. The race started with 4 cat5 racers, but one of the other registered Cat5 racers "catted up" at a prior event, so his time was placed with the Cat4 racers, leaving me as the default bronze medalist. It's embarassing because the race marshall announced my time before everyone: in a time of one hour and 31 minutes, Tim Weis!

That's slower than 16mph for those of you keeping score at home.

I wish I had left the computer on the bike. I want to know how fast I was going when I was in the zone. I haven't gone that fast in a super long time.

2009: 1h21m

I had managed to let my diet turn to crap and didn't ride the bike as much: I had put on 19lbs in 11 months. I managed to lose 8 of them before the games and was just as fast on my "test ride" to Palmyra and back as I was in 2007, only I didn't smoke.

I started commuting semi-regularly on the bike that June.

I had been battling a runny nose that had turned into a slight fever the week leading up to the games. That morning I woke up with a fever of 101 and a terrible cough. I almost threw in the towel. Nope, I gotta do this. I loaded up on ibuprofen and coffee and hit the ground running.

I remembered my shoes.

There were a lot of entrants in 2009. There were 8 Cat5 racers. One broke a chain a few strokes in. Another rider showed up on an early 90s mountain bike equipped with fat tires and a profile bar. I'm pretty sure he crapped his pants when he saw the cat1/2 racers and their disc wheels and aero helmets.

I made it 3/4 of the way through the course when the ibuprofen wore off. I couldn't push it any more. I was dizzy.

The next day I had pinkeye and a fever of 102.3. Shoulda thrown in the towel.

2010: ?h??m

This winter was absolutely brutal, I had to do something that did not involve a wiimote or a monopoly board.

I did some indoor trainer group sessions at Joyride Bicycles in January and February. Local elite racer Sydney Brown yelled at a bunch of us for 8 Saturdays to keep our heads and cadences up. I learned a lot about interval training and maintaining good form. 

And then the ice and snow melted. I didn't "train" so much as "get out of the house to ride" as soon as the grass turned green and the trees started leafing. The lack of training discipline became blatantly obvious when I raced the Capitol City Criterium. I was content to ride 18 mph the whole time. I did one big sprint around another "straggler" on the penultimate lap, just to make sure I didn't come home with the DFL (Dead F----n' Last) prize.

I feel pretty good on the bike overall, I've put on more miles this year than I have in any prior year, but they're "commuting" miles. An auto racing equivalent is "training for the Indy 500 by driving an 18 wheeler cross country." I have one more weekend with which to prep.

2010 CSG game plan: I'm installing new inner tubes and taping over the mph readout of my cyclecomputer the night before the race. I don't need a flat and I don't want any idea of how fast I'm going until the race is done: I don't want distractions once I get in the zone but I still want to know my max speed.

I'm probably not going to come home with a medal, but I would be ecstatic finishing with a personal best of 1h14m (or faster) on June 26.

1 comment:

  1. This is a great post! Loved hearing about each CSG race. This is your year! Rock it and have a great time! Can't wait to hear how it goes down.