Monday, April 27, 2009

The Dark Place

Michael Jordan once said he used to go into a "zone" when he was on top of his game. The opposite side of the "zone" is the "pain locker", not exactly a happy place. But over this past weekend, while at the Raw Talent Ranch, I discovered the "dark place", where ghosts take over your mind and your body is just going through the motions.

The team had the annual training camp and about 18 of us made the trip over to West Virginia. Upon arrival on Friday, Jay Moglia had us out on the road, doing a 40miler, leg opener, but towards the last climb, it became a leg breaker, with a good portion of the boys choosing to dismount and push their rigs (myself included).

Saturday's "death march" will stay with me for a long time. I have gone into the pain locker more times that I can remember, and usually come out of it not too damaged, but Saturday I dove straight into the "dark place" and at one point I thought things were just getting out of control. After two climbs, I was feeling OK and thought tackling the last 7 mile ascend back to the Ranch was a possibility, but a mix of a banana and coke put end to any thoughts of finishing and opened the door to the place I will hope, never to visit again.

Combine with the heat, the hills, a stomach that wasn't functioning at all, things quickly went pearshape and I lost contact with my group. I think it was 3 miles into the climb when my mind switched. No longer was the techno music playing on my Ipod doing its usual trick, my legs were not going to turn anymore, so I unclipped, walked a bit and remounted. Another 100 yards farther up the mountain, I put my foot down again, this time sitting on the side of the road. My group had decided that the first one back at the ranch would drive back down to look for "victims", so the thought of just waiting kept me sitting for a little longer. The view was great from my position, but something kept telling me to push, not my legs, they were by now cursing me in both english and spanish. I swung the leg over the top tube once again, felt a cramp, but headed up anyway, and next thing I know I was laughing, for no apparent reason, my situation was no joke, however I was laughing. The following switchback brought me to a complete stop and I got off the bike once and for all. A nice shadowy spot was my last resting place on that infamous climb. After a wait of about 20 minutes, the car showed up, I loaded the bike and was taken back to the barn.

A meal later, I was feeling half human again, and I believe going to the pain locker will be no big deal from now on, even eating a slice or two of humble pie I can handle, but the "dark place", there, I don't want to go again. Rest today and tomorrow will see how things feel. It will be either Hains Point or the Eisenhower ride.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Solar Powered!

Over the years, I have learned that my body must be solar powered. During the winters months I struggle and suffer, sometimes in silence, sometimes bitching to whoever is riding next or ahead of me, usually Jose or Dani, but once the sun comes out and I shed about 15 lbs. of clothing, things turn for the best.

That was the case on Saturday at Syn-Fit. Like most people who went, the registration process was something to marvel. I think I held the line just because I couldn't believe how quick the process was. Kudos to the organizers. And after a nice warm up with my teammate, we lined up for the cat4 race.

Race is not what I would define the event as, it was more of parade of 22 laps, with the odd interval thrown in there to break a sweat. The boys from Bike Rack reedmed themselves this time and had things lined up which actually looked pretty good. But since I had spent the most part of the race in la-la land, by the time I snapped into action and realized there were two laps to go, I was out of contention.

The pack finish wasn't something I was happy about and there was only one way to fix it. My teammate kept telling me how much he had left in the tank and I thought my tank was pretty much full too, so I spent the time in between races telling myself to at least be active in the Masters 35+ 4/5.

Because of the "issue" with the Masters 50 race before us, we had a late start and my body had gone into shut down mode while standing at the line. Once we were off, the first lap was nothing to be excited about, so I took off through the start/finish and got my heart rate up. Now I was ready.

The race (this was one) was aggressive, and I stayed towards the front, covering breaks and trying to be active. With 8 laps to go, I settled into top 10 and the pace was high enough that I didn't have to fight for position, which was good for everyone. With one to go, I believe it was Whole Wheel Velo singled the file the group and opened a gap, that I tried to close, eventually latching on going into the last corner. I took shelter behind a Colavita rider and tried to come around him at the end, but I was pretty much done. 8th place, just outside the money, what a bastard!.

I left feeling good, I rode the first race like I would have in years past, then change my mind set and went on the offensive on the second one, leaving nothing in the tank, which is one of my goals for the year. The sun was out and the motor was running just fine, a perfect day out.

Take a look at this and you be the judge, was it deliverate?

Monday, April 6, 2009


That's what I'm doing at the moment, well actually, I'm typing, but I spent the best part of the day reading about Walkersville and Tyson's. And the reason I'm reading is because I'm sitting half way accross the world, on the banks of the Bospherous straight, Istanbul, Turkey to be exact. And why am I here?. Not to cover the upcoming Presidential Tour of Turkey (the bike race), I'm here because of the Alliance of Civilazations meeting and the stop of Pres. Obama in country.

But by the sounds of it, Walkersville would have kicked me on the butt with the wind and Tyson's, I never got on the starting list, so not much was lost. What's quickly going away is whatever form I had. Things were going just fine on that department until the trip over here. All I have done since arriving last Saturday is drink Efes beer, eat at the local kobobs place (if ever here, check out Durumce, fantastic stuff and cheap), check out the sites and well, some work. I did manage to catch the Tour of Flanders live on Eurosport. No Bob Roll here, just hard racing and good commentating. Should be back stateside by Saturday night and the plan is to join the bunch on the 8:30am ride, jetlag and all.

P.S. Matt, I hope you get recover from the crash at Tyson's very soon.