Sunday, March 4, 2012

Lago Race Reporto

So maybe attempting to race an entire weekend in the P12 field at La Primavera at Lago Vista, a grueling 83 miles up one side of a 6.6 mile course then a mad decent down the backside where racers can exceed speeds of 50mph was not the best idea. Ten short days ago I was chilling on the beach of Costa Rica making a daily routine of surfing and watching sunsets fizzle out into the Pacific. Maybe it was just a dream....

Traditionally the course was run clockwise both days but the last couple of years Sunday's course has been run counter clockwise. I am not sure which direction is harder. There comes a point both days where I gotta convince myself that I can do just one more pedal stroke, one more hill, one more lap....

Team Wooly Mammoth, an intergalactic cycling team that offered me a contracto after I served a suspension related to abnormal blood values in an out of competition test that can best be described as a complete mix up in the lab with my blood and the blood of the juicy steak I refused to not finish when WADA came knocking, finds no other race more traditional and romantic than Lago, so naturally we offered our services to PeleDon. In return for running registration and vehicle support, TWM was offered calm nights of clear sky star gazing out in the Texas Hill Country and breakfast tacos.

Since coming back from Costa Rica, I jumped back into my Austin experience of work, yoga, training, racing and friends and family. I raced Pace Bend last weekend and used my beginner surf skills to last until 3 miles with just two training days after 15 days off the bike. Lago would be different, I knew, and upon arriving Friday night, I fell into a deep sleep I had not had in I don't know how long. I awoke at 6 to work registration and lasted two hours before I went back to bed. Two hours later it was time to get ready to race. I lasted two laps. I rode another hour around the beautiful Lago area, witnessed more of the lasting effects of the drought on lake levels and then went back to bed. Elbowz came back from last weekends mismanagement to take 8 of the top 10 spots. Highlight of my day was the highlights in our waitress' hair at dinner.

I promised myself that I would finish Sunday. Here's what it took:

About lap two I am all too aware that I am in great difficulty. How I'm gonna last 15 laps is of no immediate concern cause I'm too focused on how I am going to last another hill. About lap three I find Steve Tilford tucked away in the middle of the pack. His pedal stroke is so smooth and I ride behind his left leg applying some of the mythology of left body/right body my yoga teacher talks about in class. This is his creative side. The side that makes real nice circles with the pedals, the side that moves his 50+ year old body to so many victories on the bicycle. I feel relaxed. Then I move to his right side. His masculine side. I feel stronger. Everything turns mechanical. Bike racing is a means to an end and I must turn off everything except the functions to make my body move faster. About a lap or two later I come unattached from the field. I push myself but it's not getting me any closer to coming back together with the moving peloton. I can't quit so I keep pedaling.

Riding by yourself in a race, either in front or behind the field, has one obvious advantage: everyone knows its you. Words of encouragement were spoken to me all along the course as I kept coming back around further and further down. Eventually the Cat2 race caught and passed me. They were doing two laps less than the P12 race so as I came across the start/finish when I should have 6 more laps I saw 4 laps to go. Hey, I said I would finish the race. I wasn't gonna argue with the break, so I turned the gears a little more confidentially. Next lap, the officials adjusted the lap cards for me and I saw 6 laps to go. Oh well...

Next to lap me was the break of the P12 race and shortly after the remnants of the field. After riding about six laps solo it was not that difficult to jump in with this group. Next time up the climb, the field split into about three groups and I ended up in the third group with about 7 guys. We came around for 3 laps to go and the officials had 2 laps to go displayed. I was so amped. I rode up the climb, leading our group the whole way, with the anticipation and excitement of "finishing" but really not giving up. Next lap, officials adjusted their mistake and had 2 laps to go displayed. I was reminded of my 2 hr taxi drive from the airport in Costa Rica to where I was staying. The signs would show 6km to Playa Guiones, then 5 minutes later show 10km. "what the ?!" I pointed this out to the taxi driver every time it happened and he would just shrug. We would get there eventually, I just had to keep riding.

When I crossed the line, I was alone and everyone was almost gone. I got dropped from our little group on the last lap and stopped to pee before I went in my chamois. My stuff had been removed from our room and set outside cause we were supposed to be out at 4. It was 4:20. We started the race at 12:30. Elbowz took 1-4. My friend, Colton, was the only rider in a 5 man break not riding for Elbowz. Outnumbered, he went for broke and earned his 5th place and a lot of respect for fighting till the end.