Hey guys & gals! I'm 6'4/275 and used to race MTB's. I've won the GA state series in the Clydesdale division plus a bunch of AMBC races as well. a buddy of mine told me I was the topic of a thread (I raced today) where a guy called me "some fat guy..." but he just stated I was big so all is well even though I am kinda fat still (I've lost 100lbs in the past year and a 1/2). I don't like being called Fat.
I did a write-up for this past weekends road race(s) I did in Greenville, SC and figured this was a good place to post it since we are all in the same very large boat.
Greenville, SC Spring Race Series #1
Saturday, February 23rd
Greenville’s spring race series is the rooster call that awakens the hearts & legs of the dirty south’s froggiest road riders. Saturday’s venue was to take place at the Donaldson center, an industrial park with a small airport smack dab in the middle of the 7 mile loop that was to be the race course. I was just one of the many that showed up to do battle and I brought my two biggest guns with me, my left and right legs. After taking one of the WBL’s coveted Rookie of the year awards I was ready to dive into my first road race of the season with the confidence needed to ensure a good finish. My placing in the top five at the Tundra Time Trial the week prior to this event was a true testament of my ability to put the power to the ground without the comfort of a large wind blocking group. This place was notorious for some very serious winds and I was ready. My battle plan was to make a break from the pack early utilizing one of the downhills and hold it as long as I could no matter how much it hurt. This type of plan can backfire if I went too hard and was unable to hold the effort. Worse case scenario would be that I’d blow-up then be swept up by the pack and left for dead or at least last place. My wake up call was at 4:30am and I was on the northern stretch of I-85 heading for South Carolina at 5am. The morning was cool and foggy and that fog was determined not to let up till well past my nine o’clock start time. I arrived in plenty of time to get a good warm-up and decided to take a full lap around the course to get feel of what I had in store. As I finished up my warm-up lap I saw David Cook. David is a very strong rider and we’ve done a bunch of mountain bike races together in the past. At first I thought that I was going to be racing with/against him but as it turns out he was just there to support his girlfriend. He was having no part of the pain & suffering that was about to unfold. As I went over my race strategy with him he agreed that I should kick out the jams right away and try to make a surprise break. As my race time was approaching, I handed David my camera in hopes he would get some pictures of me doing my thing in the race. He also introduced me to a couple of his friends that were to be challenging me in the upcoming race. We exchanged greetings like a bull greats his rider then after they left David told me they raced in the expert mountain bike class and were all very strong but not to worry…he could out power them all and was sure I could do the same.
As I lined up at the start, I looked over the pack of wolves and of course the pack was chock full of guys with high dollar Carbon rides that had all the trimmings and here I was with a steel rig heavier then a VW bug. “No big deal, I am me and me is strong, me is going to whip some major butt today…” Self said onto me. As the race official was talking his talk I jokingly asked him when the Clydesdale class was going off and he told me not to worry, this was my type of course without any major climbs… I should do well. While I was standing on the start line getting my game face on I noticed some of the guys were also checking me out and sizing me up... make that super sizing me up! I thought to myself…”Self, they think because you are big there is no way you could be fast” Most of folks in the group rides I do on a regular basis know this to be false but this was at least 2 hours away from the ATL and I didn’t see anyone that I’ve ridden with before so I figured I was good to go and would play my cards as I saw fit.
3-2-1…GO!!! We were off and I stayed in my patented 4th wheel position as told by the great and all powerful Crowe (leader of the WBL rides). My plan was to feel the group out and see who was willing to party like a rock star.
The start of the race was well under way and I made a slight power play towards the front of the pack only to be checked by another rider then another till I was back in forth position. I did another little pull up to the front and now had the pack on their toes only to be brought back on the first climb of the day. I acted as if I was having trouble dealing with the climb and heard one of the riders behind me say “Com`on big guy…” Little did he know that I actually felt fine and could have ramped up the climbing effort but this was all part of my little game. As I watched 5 riders pull ahead a small grin was forming on my face, once they crested the hill I decided it was time to make my move and drilled it hard on the downhill section of the hill. I managed to reach 42 mph and got into my tuck position in order to milk every bit of “free” speed my immense 275lb body can produce. I figured I now had a nice little gap and took a gander back to see if they were going to do anything about it. They seemed to be unworried and left me out there to deal with the harsh winds all alone… bad idea guys! The next climb was the long steady type that I managed to push through without much fuss but knew that my fake-out might not have worked so well since I could see they were starting to attack and coming right for me. I was determined to hold this early break I created and pushed even harder on the pedals but the back side of the 7 mile loop was open and very windy. My solo break was turning out to be a much harder effort then I had anticipated this is when the mental part sets in. My heart rate was climbing over 180 and I knew that if I kept up the pace I would be caught so I decided to let up a little and recover a bit. The only rabbit I had to chase was in the form of a black unmarked police car that was leading my race. A couple officials on motorcycles were in the mix as well but they stayed with the pack behind me most of the time unless they came to my side when they had to warn the riders in the class that went off before us to get out of my draft since it was unfair for them to be drafting a rider in a different class. They were mostly juniors and I really didn’t mind but rules are rules and I did not want to be disqualified. As I powered through the backside of the course I was feeling great and started to peddle even harder. One of the race official’s that was manning one of the turns commented after the race about how I was pushing such a hard gear ‘ol skool Bob Roll style. After hammering out the somewhat flat, windy section I was coming up to the start/finish area that marked the end of first of three laps I/we had to suffer through. I saw David on the sideline with a huge smile on his face, cheering me on. At this point I think the only folks that knew I was actually in the lead was David and the officials themselves since I was now picking off more in the previous race that had gotten dropped out of their pack. My plan was working… at least for the first lap.
The 2nd lap was where things started to get a bit sketchy. My legs were screaming but my brain was doing it’s best ‘talk to the hand’ impersonation and not listening. I could feel the pack closing in on me so I decided to step it up and mash the pedals even harder and attack the 2 climbs ahead rather then just deal with them this go round. From time to time I would look back and see just how big the gap between me and the pack. From what I could tell they were stepping it up and a small group was indeed chasing me down. I had no choice but to pull out all the stops and push as hard as I could. I wanted to ensure I would have more tarmac between me and them before the next climb attempted to beat me to a pulp.
I knew I would be able to recover a little whilst in my downhill tuck position on the other side of the climb but would I be able to hold off an entire peloton of pissed of bumblebees that I managed to fool for the first lap? I’ve dealt with bees before and have felt the sting of a great many all at once but this time I had a huge can of Raid on board along with an even bigger can of whoop-ass so I was ready! The climbs were done and behind me but now I was back in the windy section of the course with no cover, just me, my bike and the police cars rear bumper taunting me. I was wondering what the cop inside that car was thinking when he looked at me in his rearview…”can this big guy actually keep it together and win this race? My god he really is freaking huge! Looks like the jolly green giant’s bigger brother! How the hell is he holding this pace…get me a doughnut S.T.A.T!!”
As I approached the start/finish line this time it was very clear that all those on the sidelines knew exactly what place I was in and they were all going absoulty nuts! I looked right at David and he gave me the look of pride & excitement that will follow me to the grave… He knew more then I that I had it tagged and bagged even though the race was far from over. Now the pain was really setting in and I could feel my left leg start to cramp but I was very focused, sucked it up, kept my head down and in my drops. I knew all I had to do was keep it together for just two more laps and the cherished win was to be mine forever. The first hill was a joke, there was no way I was giving up the ship because of a small incline so I gave it all I had and crested it in no time at all... “Dude, they are coming…!” Self said onto me. I turned around to see the gap and it was still pretty large but were they realizing that the big guy was not slowing up? “Step it up some more!” self started to scream in my ear. Next climb… done. I was breathing hard, my legs were burning, my heart rate was in the red but I was determined to win this ordeal at all costs. Last year I had a dreadful time at this race; I was 70lbs heavier and got dropped on the 2nd climb. I suffered alone throughout the whole race only to finish far behind the lead pack in despair. This time round I was lighter and much stronger and there was no way I was going to give up the farm when the deed was bought and paid for. The windy section was approaching and I was ready to beat the crap out of it. It hurt but I was used to the pain from all the hard efforts on the WBL rides where I would not give up even though my legs wanted too in a bad way. Once again I was approaching the start/finish line to the roaring cheers of the crowd. I was in the mode and just had one more lap till glory. David was totally freaking out and I gave him a quick wink then it was back to the business at hand, wining the race. I was fully focused and ripped up the climbs, smoked the downhill’s, powered through the windy section but it was at that point that the mental part tried to take over “My god, I’m really going to win…” Tears started to leave my eye sockets. “must be the wind” I told self. Relax, breathe and keep pedaling harder! “I’m not going to make it… I’m pulling over and having a nice cool drink... Don’t listen to that bas_terrd Self anymore…you got this!” As I came around the bend that starts the small incline up to the start/finish line I looked back for the last time and could hardly even see the massive pack behind me… I had it in the bag and proceeded to pedal with authority to and across the finish line while folks all around were cheering! I won my first road race and took the win in the form of a 20 mile solo effort that seasoned bike racers only dream about. As I turned around after my cool down I was greeted with handshakes and pats on the back for a job well done from the racers that I had dropped. David ran over and gave me a hug, “Dude, you did it”!!! I even got a magnificent hug from Kim Potter who is by far the prettiest & strongest female to ever grace two wheels. She also did very well in her race and has been hammering out the WBL rides along with me as well as others that placed well during the event. Not only did I beat all the riders in the pack but more importantly I beat the course that left me for dead a year ago.
During the day I was approached buy all kinds of folks and one lady almost brought the big guy to tears. She told me her son was also big and that they were trying their best to get him in shape. She wanted to thank me for my unparalleled win since it proved that even the big guys can do well in this sport and this came right from the heart. I was saddened that none of my teammates saw the race and the thrashing I brought forth on the pack but when they did show up for their races later in the day they heard the tall tales from the folks that actually saw the deed as it was laid down.
Sunday, February 24th
After Saturday’s spankfest, I decided to drive back up to Greenville to take part in Sunday’s criterium held at the BMW test track just outside Greenville. The track is an oval and mostly flat with a slight incline at the finish. We were to ride for 45mins then do one lap for the finish. The weather was gloomy and much colder then the previous day but I’ve become accustomed to the harsh weather since I’m forced to train in it as of late. This time when I lined up at the start I had what seemed to be a huge red X on my back from the previous day’s severe pounding I gave the other racers in my class. To make matters worse the race Marshall made sure to tell all the riders at the start line that they were not to let the big guy get away this time… once bitten…twice dropped! I figured that today’s game plan was to be more of the same. They want to hold me back and not let me get away on a solo break then fine I will bring the pain, nobody is sitting in on this race. After the start I proceeded to set the tempo early to a brisk 25mph with pulls off the front of 30mph. I was pulling the pack the entire time and had it strung-out single file for most of the race. I knew I was stronger then the whole lot and wanted them to feel the pain to the core, this is not a group ride, this is a race gents. I let up a couple of times to see what would happen and whenever someone even thought about going for a break I would shut it down and pull them back into the pack. This went on for a while and towards the end my fingers started to get numb. I don’t know if it was the constant pressure on my hands the day before that made them numb since I was in my drops the whole time or the cold since I was not wearing gloves. All I know is that I had no control of my fingers and that would be a very dangerous situation at the finish since I knew it would be a sprint down to the wire. “2 laps to go…” said the official. At this point I figured I’d kick it into high gear and see if I could make something happen… nope, they were all working against me and I could not get a clean getaway so I was left to decide if I wanted to chance getting hurt at the finish or let the others go for the sprint. I decided it was not worth it so early in the season so during the last turn on the last lap I sat up and let the other riders duke it out at the finish.
I had dominated on both days and was showered with handshakes and attaboy’s from not only the racers I raced with but the Course Marshals, Police and onlookers. One of the course marshals told me that I did not “win” that race I “dominated” it.
The first races of the Georgia cup series is next weekend in Albany, GA. My name is Big Scott, I race for Atlanta Pro Bikes and I plan to bring the pain.