February 19, Saturday: Tundra Time Trial (10 mi) / C Event / COMPLETE: Finished 37/94 in Cat V (14/35 in 40-50 AG) which is 40th percentile. Sick and lost bike cam (turned around to get it costing 40 sec). 32:48:85 race time for 12 mile course. So-so performance but it’s what I had available that day, was shooting for a top 10 which I would have needed to shave 2:30 (excl the bike cam incident), shoulda had it

Much of the start of 2011, and really any year, it just establishing a good fitness base from which to build upon throughout the racing season. Diesel and I logged a lot of miles together, mainly off-road, but some on. We needed to have a reasonable level of fitness pretty quickly as we had our first scheduled event, the Tundra TT (time trial) on February 19. Time trials are generally short, this one being about 12 miles in length. But make no mistake, TT is about as painful as it gets on a bike if you’re doing it right. It’s an all-out, hard as you can maintain, effort for the duration. Add to that the fact that this was gonna be in early February, and likely really cold, and you are set up for a good time. Speaking of colds, I came down with a nasty one, really a sinus infection, the weekend before the TT. In fact, I had been fighting constant sinus issues since roughly Thanksgiving of 2010. This last one was number 4 of a string of sinus infections (really, probably just one single long one that never completely went away) and it was the last straw. After the Spring bike peak, ending with Mt Mitchell, I would have surgery to fix whatever was going on in my nose/head (it was only 2 days after Mitchell in fact, my heart rate being so low after all the endurance training that I struggled to convince the hospital that I was healthy enough to be operated on, how crazy is that?). I ended up coming out of surgery with a pair of plastic sausages stitched into my nose, through the nose divider (technically called a septum in medi-speak). The “sausages” were called splints, I guess to keep my nose all straight and pretty while it healed. Anyway, having them removed in the doctors office left me curled up in the corner, in the fetal, mumbling for momma. An awesome (as in, I was in awe at how huge something can be shoved into your nose) experience but 100% worth it as I think I’m done with sinus problems now (fingers crossed).

Anyway, day of the event, we were very fortunate to have reasonable weather. Still chilly at the start, but not miserable. I unfortunately felt like hammered hell due to my head / sinus issue. I raced it anyway. I even tried to video the event, placing a camera shooting forward on the riser bar (the piece of tube which sticks up from the bike fork onto which the handlebar stem is attached). So I get on the starting ramp. Now I’m a pretty heavy rider (some say big-boned, I’m not ashamed to say thunder-chunk). At this point, I was around 215lb or so (I’m now a “trim” 205 lbs, but still have a ways to go). Most people look at me and way underestimate just how dense I am (take that for what its worth) so I cautioned the holder (the guy which holds your bike from behind while you get on and get clipped in, waiting for the buzzer to tell you to go) as to my mass so that he wouldn’t drop me. Of course, he knew better, and I almost fell off the stupid ramp as he let the bike wiggle right near the edge.

Anyway, still upright, locked and loaded, the buzzer sounds and I take off. Despite a plugged up nose, a throbbing headache, and a voice that was barely audible, I was determined I could gut it out for this one 12 mile effort. If all went as planned, I’d only need about 30 minutes or so to make it through. Diesel had taken off before me. I was gonna use him as my “rabbit”, trying to chase him down. Mentally, its great motivation to do so, constantly going harder and harder, thinking you will see him just around the next corner or hill. The turnaround was at roughly 6 miles in so I knew we’d pass each other at some point. I was making good time, holding a good rhythm of breathing and pedaling, just listening to the sounds of the bike going over each expansion joint. All of a sudden, the rattling from the bike got a little louder, and sounded differently. What the… I looked down just in time to see the camera I had attached to the riser come loose and bounce off my leg onto the Silver Comet Trail, which is where we were racing.

Processing, thinking, computing… dammit, I guess I’m gonna have to stop and go back and get that. These cameras aren’t really disposable, at least not in my tax income bracket, and I wasn’t gonna get paid to win anything here, so I made the decision to stop the bike, turn around and get the camera, and then wind back up to finish this thing. I was going between 25 and 30 mph at the time, so I had gone maybe nearly 100 yards by the time I got stopped. I turned around and went back. A female walker (yes, it’s crazy, but the Comet remains open even while we are racing so there are walkers, kids, even potentially dogs on leashes, out there within inches of bikers going sometimes at over 40mph) was picking up the pieces of the camera mount which virtually exploded upon impact, the camera itself being totally unharmed (I was highly impressed BTW). I skidded up to her and tried to communicate that I’d like her to throw all the crap in the back pocket of my jersey. Unfortunately, having laryngitis, and also having just breathed cold, dry air for the past 8 minutes or so at max respiratory rate, I had virtually no voice. So I just backed up to her, one leg off the bike, and pulled open the back of my jersey. She luckily figured it out, threw everything in, and was so apologetic since she knew my race just went to hell. I gave her the thumbs up and smiled, very appreciative, but the race really didn’t matter. With the head cold and all, I knew I wasn’t gonna be top gun this day anyway.

So I raced onwards towards the turnaround, passing Diesel head on, maybe ½ mile before getting there. We only had a fraction of a second to talk but I simply yelled out “Don’t let me catch you”, not that I really could have. I managed to get back in 32 min, 48 sec, placing 37th out of 94 in Cat V (5, the lowest racing class, everybody’s gotta start somewhere) and 14 of 35 in the 40-50 y/o age group (yes, that’s now officially where I’m running, out of time I guess one could say). These results were “okay”, but nothing stellar. I had bigger fish to fry this year, this was just a fun event, so I easily moved on. Nothing I could have changed here anyway, well, except maybe not to try to video. Turns out that I lost all the video so had nothing to show for my sacrifice. It was all for nothing. Boo.