Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Rural Wyoming
Bikes: '73 Schwinn Varsity, 1964 Schwinn Racer, 1954 Schwinn Jaguar, 1950's Puch Bergmeister, 1980 Schwinn High Plains, 1973 Flandria, 1980's Diamondback Sorrento, 2001 Jamis Aurora
Senior Olympics Ride Reports...Rocky Mountain Games
Well, I am back and almost have enough strength to push most of these keys down. I spent the last three days in Colorado with some of the finest cyclists I have ever had the pleasure to meet. And I have found that while we cyclists thrive on pie, the kind that is hardest to admit you're eating is good old 'humble' pie...
Friday was the track and field events that I signed up for...and with this as a background I almost looked like I knew what I was doing. Perfect weather, great people, and a great track. I actually qualified for nationals in the sprints, and managed to bring home four medals. I was on cloud nine. But the euphoria was not destined to last long.
Saturday morning was the beginning of the bike racing, and was held in Keenesburg Colorado. I arrived early and test rode the course. Much flatter than what I am used to and new pavement on all of it. Perfect conditions with a slight wind at 6:00 am. I rode back to the parking lot and started watching the troops roll in...
Within a half hour I was in total awe. Colnago, De Rosa, Litespeed, Sarotta, Pinarello, and all the trimming started rolling out and folks with more wheel sets than I have hair started assembling and getting warmed up. With the exception of three of us, everyone had both time-trial bikes and road-racing bikes. I'd say 75% had trainers and were spinning with their HRM's and powermeters rolling. Colorful jerseys adorned each and every one. But I am here to say now that no-one was a posseur, there was not a Fred or a Ralph in the entire bunch. And not a single person I met the entire time was snooty, they were all so friendly and fun that I'd be hard pressed to say when I had met a better bunch of people.
When I first asked what to expect of the games out here on the forums, I was told everything from little old ladies with front baskets all the way to full race gear heads would probably show up. Not so in Colorado...these were all people who took their cycling very, very seriously. Club riders from all the nothern Colorado clubs, retired Cat-1's who grew up racing, many many folks who frequented the Carmichael training camps, and while some appeared to almost be in my class, none were. There was alot of banter and everyone seemed to know each other, but again I fell right in and felt welcome while being albeit...very outclassed.
I was asked multiple times which age division I was riding in...and the answer I gave even made the flinty eyed pieces of leather cringe. But I kept it all in perspective and was not nervous and kept repeating to myself that this these were just great training rides for me. It was about then that a car drove up with a 75 year old gentleman showed up with his Sorrota, and he had my heart from the moment I noticed he had a Brooks swift on it. His name was Les....
Now Les looked frail to me, he was hunched over quite a bit and I helped him unload his bike and get it set up on his trainer. He spoke of days gone by and past glories he had ridden on that bike. His eyes twinkled when he spoke, and I was taken by his never-say-die attitude. But it was about then that I needed to go get warmed up so I rode off to get a sweat going. The 10K time trial was about to begin. They ran it reverse order, oldest to youngest, and I was last off the starting line. At least I knew that way I would not get passed. Thank God for that!
The start was uneventful with plenty of encouragement and I held a fair average (good for me!) till the turn around point. The headwind and slight uphill hammered me and I dropped below 20mph for most of it. I finished with the distinct taste of lung in my mouth and knew I had ridden about as hard as I knew how. But I knew better and did not even wander over and look at my time when they were posted. I started concentrating on the 20K road race...hoping, praying that maybe a stranger from up North could somehow out-fox a few of these cheetah's on wheels and make a respectable showing for myself. Oh, how wrong we can be...
The road race started at 10:00, with the wind staying about the same. The 50 thru 60's were in the first release, the 65 thru 80's in the second, with the women being a minute after them. My group was 35 plus riders and I got a position in the middle of the bunch on the inside where I figured I wouldn't hurt anyone. There is something about that group start that is magical. The sights and sounds are something I will never forget.
The first flat, close to a mile, was uneventful and I managed to stay right with the pack. There was a slight downhill approaching a 90 degree right hand turn, and being on the left outside I was out of the wind well, and well, I thought what the heck...no guts no glory, so I hammered it as hard as I could just before the turn, and TOOK THE LEAD! I shot around the corner in front and gave a quick glance back. I had the pack by maybe 20 yards. The wind hit me and slowed me down, but I perservered and gave it all I had...if I could just keep it up for 5 more miles...then I heard something...the pack behind me, talking like regular conversation - "Sure a pretty morning for it, isn't it?" "Yes, just beautiful. I thought it might be alot warmer" "Yeah, but I think we better get busy..." And with that the peleton shot past me like I was going backwards. I tried to hang on the back, but couldn't. I watched as they rode into the horizon. I was alone, way way alone.
It's hard by yourself out there, no one to draft with, and I was starting to cough up stuff that looked like things that had sat in 'fridge too long. But after the turn around I could see who was coming up behind me and three ladies were all lined out and soon to pass. I was ready when they did, and I fell behind them, noticing how much better the view was at that point. And I gave it my all again, quads burning, lungs searing and I kept up with them for a long ways...maybe a 100 yards or so! Then they took a swig off their water bottle and dropped me like a sour apple. The first corner was coming up and a mile of gradual uphill with the wind almost in my face. I was worried I wouldn't make it at that point, when I heard a voice..."Grab my wheel and let's get off this damn road!!!" and with that my frail old friend on the Serotta came by and I fell in behind him. We swicthed off fighting the wind for the last mile, and God bless him, he got me back home. He changed my life in those moments, and I thanked him for the help, and he was just thanking me all the more because I'd helped him come in second in that age group, and he'd qualified for nationals. It was one of those moments that will stick in my mind forever...Thanks again Les.
Yesterday was just more of the same with me just trying to improve on what I knew were pathetic performances. I did post an almost decent time in the 5K Time-Trial. My 40K was less than stellar, but I found Les and another friend and made it out alive. There was one wreck during 40K road race that left a gentleman with a broken collarbone and maybe a damaged upper arm. The fellow in front whose wheel he touched dropped out because he felt so bad and a couple other riders that got overheated thru in the towel. But I learned alot, and enjoyed every minute now that I can almost sit upright and feel my toes again. My hat is off to all those fine people there and I'll never forget the experience. Now I know what I need to do and that my training that I thought was so intense is nothing compared to what I really need to do. The Wyoming games are in a month and a half, and I better get way busy if I'm going to do any good at all. That plus hope a nice frail looking 75 year old befriends me before the first race even starts...