Doing it all the hard way...

Monday, September 28, 2009

Series Race Number One 2009 Evergreen HS


After a season of mediocre category three finishes, I elected to drop back to my old Category four 45plus race. When last Davo had raced Cat 4 I was a consistent top ten finisher and I wasn’t as dedicated a trainer as I have been the last couple years. My early forays into the Cat 3 were met with success.

As I lined up this morning, I found answers to some of my lingering questions. The reason I had been moving back in the Cat 3 races was the same reason I wasn’t out of place back in the Cat 4’s. I suck (just kidding). All of the categories have become bigger and more competitive. The fist two rows of the Cat 4 were not only all team riders; these were a pack of forty-five year old (plus) physical specimens. There were some newbies in the crowd, but the group of 45 plus was fifty riders thick and those guys were at the back of the starting pack.

The thirty-five plus group started a minute in front of us and they quickly spread out. When the whistle blew, I dug in and found myself in the top twenty. As soon as we hit the rough stuff, I recognized a familiar sound. I hadn’t removed my freaking saddlebag. I go to amazing lengths to lighten my race bike and I’m carrying a tube, a tool and a pump.

I worked to float over the rough stuff and lean over to take the corners tighter. Recalling my collegiate running career, this course was particularly well suited to a good runner. We were catching the back of the 35’s on the first run up and passing them became part of the challenge for the rest of the day. The first time we hit a short sandy hill the pack blew up and I was off (the bike) and running (literally). I was able to ride it the other three times and thanks to my steel frame and low pressure I was able to stand the whole way the last time and keep the wheels digging.

I could hear my teammates cheering me on and it really made a difference. I truly appreciated it. Thanks mates.

The course had a pair of downhill sections with switchbacks the required great navigational care. It was not unlike a downhill slalom with the riders shooting the gates. I jokingly referred to this part of the course as the neutralized zone and there was no chance to pass.

I put Ryan Trebon’s advice about just staying relaxed when you hit the barriers and found myself passing riders and I can’t say why. I didn’t really pick it up and I didn’t notice them stopping for beer or anything, but I moved up each time.

The last lap I was forcing myself to maintain focus and keep the bear off my back. A lapped rider on a tight corner worked to my advantage and I kept digging to get a gap on a rider who had been chasing my wheel.

As I closed in on the finish line I was juggling the various ride aspects. Stay loose, pedal hard, lean and steer with my shoulders, keep the weight back on the downhills. Pick the smart line, but don’t give any room on the inside. At this stage of the race, as Yogi might say, half of your performance is ninety percent mental. I think that nobody is going to pass me near the end, and in fact, I am a great finisher. This may be a self-fulfilling prophecy, but that is just fine.

I held off the guy who was chasing me and finished strong. I slumped over the bars and rolled around the track. I was toast. There wasn’t anything I left on the course today and when my body had screamed for me to slow down, my brain, my ego, my inner beast, or just my stupidity shouted down my body and I pushed on. In many endurance events there is a choice to soft pedal or cruise for a while, and catch your breath or just not suffer for a little, or a long while. Today I was pleased that when it really hurt, I kept going and didn’t give in. I don’t know the results yet, but I’m scoring it a win today.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I stole one !

I had about three hours of work related phone calls this past weekend. It made a big dent in my racing schedule (more on that in another post). So when the forecast said 85 degrees for the first day of fall, I didn't feel too much shame taking a long lunch and riding down to the waters edge. A few moments on google maps and a wander down the aisles of my memory library and I thought I could make it here and back without raising eyebrows.

I put my blackberry in my back pocket and made my way here. Sleeveless jersey was the attire for the day and plenty of drink was smart as well. I had been on the beachfront street before on some Cascade Bicycle Club ride once or twice before. On those rides Hottie and I were bundled in cold weather gear. This sunny day was a complete bonus and on this first day of fall I do feel like I stole a day of summer from somewhere.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Duty Calls

The view from above !

“Hey Evo, what are you doing Wednesday after work?” I was asked by one of my company’s executives Tuesday afternoon. “Whatever you want me to be doing,” was my cheerful reply. Wednesday evening found me in a private suite at Safeco Field watching the Mariners beat the Chicago White Sox. The luxury suites are absolutely ridiculous, and addicting. Just like economy seats become banal after flying in first class, so too will regular seats be at baseball games forevermore. I was able to zip in with a parking pass that put me five minutes from the suite. The suite is climate controlled with a full time host and platters of food that mysteriously appear and change as the game progresses. Before the first pitch there are nachos and dip, potato chips, peanuts, popcorn, Buffalo wings and vegetable platters. In addition to the hosted bar, there is a fully stocked refrigerator with sodas and water. After the game gets underway, Hot dogs and a fajita bar are added to the mix along with potato salad and side dishes. Just as you decide you can’t eat any more, about the fifth inning, in come heaping platters of fresh baked cookies. The game is broadcast on closed circuit LCD TV’s in the suite and there are three rows of seats facing the field where you can sit and take in the game. Looking on either side you can spot local celebrities and political figures enjoying the game.

This was my third game in the suite this season. I recall my first week at my company when I was offered theatre tickets to see a production at The Paramount, which Hottie had been hinting that she wanted to see. Not only were we able to see the play (awesome), but I scored points with Hottie as well. My first game in the suite was all people within my company and I was able to bring Hottie as well. It is so nice to have a spouse with traits and looks that I can show off.

Hottie in the suite

My last two games I have been “working” (hence the entry title), building relationships with some of our key suppliers. What is worth noting is the quality of the people who were there. I could not help but begin taking mental notes of the similarities these people shared. To a person they were optimistic and enthusiastic. Even though they, like us, work hard; you didn’t hear a complaining word from them. They didn’t whine about their commutes or how hard work or life was, they all enjoyed their work, and their play.

My company produces a market leading product and we work exclusively with the best people and companies. Internally, we only hire the absolute best. A lot of companies give lip service to hiring and retraining the best, but we do it. It costs more, much more, but it would appear the model is working very well. You know the kind of person who stops when they see someone with a flat tire? We have a company full of them. I find myself surrounded by people of noteworthy talent and integrity. If I am counted among them, I am lucky indeed.

I am blessed or lucky, depending on your current view of deity. I try to be encouraging to my fellow beings. I would like to think I am one of those optimistic folks that surrounded me last night. Maybe karma is paying me back; because otherwise there is an awful lot I would have to attribute to luck. This isn’t to say I have not had challenges. I have made my share of mistakes and accept responsibility for them, and believe I have learned from them. I am happy beyond what I deserve, and I couldn’t hold a grudge with a bucket. I agree with William Least Heat-Moon who says in his great book, River Horse, Happiness is the best revenge. I have no need, or time for revenge, and I pity those who are angered by the happiness of others, but I do like to be happy.

I came home tonight to a candlelight dinner on our deck where Hottie and I watched the sun go down and talked of good times.

As I careen down the road toward a “round” birthday (as my friend George says) I still have most of my hair, my health is hanging tough, I have more than enough worldly junk and I live in an amazing time in a beautiful place. Could I ask for more?

I have perhaps waxed a tad philosophical today as I sit astride my trusty bike, but I can assure anyone who has the time to read this I will shortly make up for it with trivial reports on adventures and equipment reviews.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Money changes everything

As Cyndy Lauper says, so it is.
I am amazed how one can go for months not needing anything beyond food and shelter, and then at other times the little trinket, adornment or tool, seems to tempt us beyond our capacity. Problems seem to fall into one of two categories; problems that money can fix, and those that it cannot. I realize I am lucky to be where I am, and I am cognizant of how fragile my position is.

The fat wad you see was from the Syrian leg of our trip. We had to pay cash for everything. Everything included hotels, trains, cabs, and restaurants. The other challenge was their biggest bill was the equivalent of US $20. This money took care of four days.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The leaves are falling time to carry your bike

A pre-season event brought Evo out of hibernation and my son wanted to also drink from the frothy mug of cyclocross as well. This is a shot of him enjoying some early season suffering on the first run up of 2009. Although he flatted on the last lap, he was able to reach into his suitcase of courage and find enough to call it good. There were flats a plenty and Evo likewise was afflicted with that disconcerting hook and ladder wandering back wheel feeling.

All in all it was a rewarding day. Hottie was there to capture the moments, and Andrew was kind enough to share our words and images with the fellow cross cult members.
I must have a HUGE lead !!