Monthly Archives: September 2008

How old are you again?

My birthday came, and I wasn’t a year older.  I’ve already been a year older for the last 9+ months.

That is one of the oddities that comes with having a USCF racing license.  Your racing age changes on January 1st, not on your birthday.  Since being asked your age is most common in the racing context,  in your head your racing age becomes your actual age.  That’s how it works for me at least.

So when I’m asked my age in another setting — say the doctor’s office — I automatically respond with my racing age.

There’s a benefit to this.  When my birthday comes, there’s no shock about suddenly being a ‘year older’. The downside is that I’m a ‘year older’ 9 months earlier than I need to be. Of course in actuality no one becomes a year older in an instant. 

This season I got the ‘how old are you again?’ question quite a few times. Regardless of how fast I go, there’s no denying the gray hair once I take my helmet off. Once I was accused of having ‘old guy legs’.  I think it was meant as a compliment. 

The real shock this year was realizing that some of the guys in the race were about the same age as my son who just entered college last month.  I decided that as long as I could beat them I was OK with that.

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Like greyhounds chasing rabbits

The curse of competitiveness.  Once switched on, it seems impossible to switch off.

You’re out on an easy recovery ride.  You rode hard yesterday.  Or you raced.  Or maybe you have a race tomorrow.  In any case, you don’t want to go too hard, so you’re just spinning around at 18mph.

Someone passes you.   With hairy legs. You remind yourself you’re out on a recovery ride.    If he were one of the local racers, you’d let him go, knowing he’s on his program and your on yours.  You prove yourself in the race, not on a  training ride.

There’s something about the way the guy passed you — with the body language that says “ha, I’m going faster than you”.

You just can’t resist.   You have to chase him down and then drop him.  It doesn’t matter if it messes up the ride you planned. This is the road racer’s curse.

How do I know it’s not just me?  I got this report from Tris, my teammate:

*** 

So, I go riding last night (wow, was it gorgeous out!).

I’m riding down in the valley, content to just spin along at 20mph (+/-). Then, some dude passes me. At first, I don’t care – I’m just out to enjoy the ride, my legs are feeling a bit tired & sore from running this week, etc., etc.

He’s wearing a Dirt Rag (MTB-oriented mag) jersey. My competitive side takes over.

I raise my pace to keep up, but not enough to draft – about 15-20 meters behind. He’s going pretty well at about 23mph. On a little roller, his pace drops, but I stay the same distance behind.  Then I ramp it up and pass him, digging in hard on a false-flat section. I go up over 30mph before getting to the railroad crossing. I slow to cross the tracks and glance back to check for cars. He’s there, drafting me. Grrr! Actually a little surprised he hung on.

I hold a steady hard pace of about 26 – 28mph all the way to the hill by the quarry. On the lower section, I stay in the big ring and slam it hard up the hill. He’s out of my draft, but he claws back on the short false flat before the longer part of the hill. My HR hits 174. I’m feeling knackered but jump again after the incline starts.  Out of the saddle, I keep going hard all the way to the top. Believe me, I was hurting.

I had planned to go up Major Rd as part of my route, so I glance back again to check for cars so I can make a left turn. He’s about half-way up the hill.

I cracked him.

Satisfied, I clamber comfortably up Major Rd and finish out my route. Thinking about it later, I’m not sure if all I did was prove what jerks roadies can be. One thing is for sure, those 10 miles were much, MUCH, harder than I was planning to ride last night. It was a great workout and, hopefully, he enjoyed being pushed to his limits as much as I did.

***

My comment: I imagine he’s got a good story to tell now too, maybe how he was able to hang on to this guy’s wheel going 30+ mph.  He must have been a pro.  Maybe even that Paul Martin guy he’s read about in the newspaper.

Anyone else have a good ‘racing on a training ride’ story?

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We pay money to do this

Saturday night, stay home instead of going out. Pass on drinking that glass of wine. Go to bed at 10, anticipating the shock of the 5:30 AM alarm. Wake up bleary-eyed, down half a pot of coffee. Force yourself to eat though your stomach is saying, “not this early”. Head out in the early morning darkness to drive 80 miles to Erie, PA. Hope that the caffeine will kick in and keep your car from drifting into the rumble strips.

90 minutes later scramble to pump tires, pin on numbers, get dressed, use the beach-house john that’s already seen way too many visitors this morning.

Finish off the espresso shot. Prepare for the discomfort to come.

With some luck, it will be around 26 minutes of suffering. The harder you ride, the more unpleasant it will be, but also the sooner it will be over. It’s comical to pay to do something you wish was over as soon as it starts. At the Presque Isle fall time trial, there were 140 people willing to pay for the privilege of suffering while riding the 12.5 miles around the peninsula.

These were not all hard-core racers, either. The ages ranged from 11 to 75. Bikes ranged from full-on TT bikes to knobby-tired MTBs. You have to love that.

Standing around afterward, it’s interesting to hear riders’ perceptions of their rides. Some of us, again, made the mistake of paying attention to the misplaced (and then missing) mile markers. Some (Ray H) seem to have a computer running in their heads the whole time. We concluded that if you’re thinking that much, you’re wasting watts. And if you’re thinking clearly at all, you’re not going hard enough.

You also have to love that the rain held off until the very minute they finished announcing results and handing out the plaques — especially since everyone was huddled around the organizer’s laptop looking at the results (the printer wouldn’t work). THAT was a sight worthy of a picture.

Here were the top-5, which included 3 of us from the “Leroy TT crowd”:

1 Brian Batke,47,Novelty,OH 25:53.21 28.97 Team Columbus
2 Eric Hodos,40,Allison Park,PA 26:33.78 28.24 UPMC Cycling Performance
3 Rudy Sroka,51,N. Royalton,OH 26:35.56 28.20 Team Lake Effect
4 Chris Cioccio,37,Erie,PA 26:46.87 28.00 Indiana Regional Med Center
5 Ray Huang,42,Cleveland Heights,OH 26:52.46 27.91 Team Columbus

along with a great effort from another Leroy-er:
80 Robert Sroka,13,N. Royalton,OH 33:42.28 22.25 Team Lake Effect

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