This post became timely for a friend of mine so I thought I’d reblog my own post… How to beat the committee in your melon.
Retiring from a drunkard’s life at 22 was quite possibly the brightest thing I’ve ever done. I won’t bother getting into the whole “mommy sat me on the toilet seat sideways” sob story (she didn’t really, I just think it sounds funny and accurately portrays my belief in excuses), suffice it to say, at 22 years old I was told by a physician that I had the liver of a 60-year-old drunk and that if I didn’t stop, I’d die – very early. He gave me eight years, max. And I had that discussion when I was 21 – I drank heavily for another full year.
So here I am, healthy as an ox. Now, in the group that I run in, it’s a common saying that if you sober up a horse thief, you’re still left with a horse thief. Believing that, I changed everything in my life…
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Only a quarter of our normal group showed up for the last club ride of the season. It was cold, but not too bad but we had to start at 5 just to make sure we could get done before the dark consumed us. We started out easy, as is usual, and with a steady breeze out of the northeast, there were a few early miles that were uncharacteristically tough – this is good news. The pace was outstanding – one of those paces I could have kept up for hours. A couple of riders peeled off the back and we actually contemplated waiting for them for a bit but they motioned to keep going, so we did. The pace picked up a bit from there once we tightened the formation.
We cycled through the rotation, everyone doing their part. It is rare, but I was feeling quite chipper so I wound up being one of the horses. There was going to be no getting spit off the back this evening. I was strong up the hills, struggling at times but I felt it. Two-thirds of the way through I knew I had the legs. Finally, sweet Jesus, after all of this time (this year) I had the will to hang with the lead group.
I motored up the hills, I was light and I could feel the power coursing through my quads. No pain, only power. No doubts, no hesitation. I’d pull just a little too long then duck off to tuck back in – and was recharged within a half-mile. Where was this coming from! Up a decent roller, spinning an easy 90 cadence and pulling away from the group. I was dancing on the pedals (I finally understand what that feels like – quite remarkable actually). I was doing it dammit! YES!
Only five to go and I felt awesome. Four… Three… We formed into a single file pace line… Shit, I almost missed it, but I was there. Two to go, 26 mph into the wind – my buddy Mike, two behind the leader, just in front of me, motioned for me to pull up and he was off the back. Only three of us left. One mile to go and I was in the perfect position. The fast Mike dropped the lead and tucked in behind me (humorously enough the guy in front of me was named Mike too – that’s a lot of Mikes). The lead Mike slackened the pace a little – less than half a mile to go… At a quarter-mile, I sensed the Mike behind me starting to come around – then I saw his wheel out of the corner of my eye. All of a sudden the Mike ahead of me picked up his cadence – the sprint was on…
Everyone gets dropped…
I picked up my cadence and just as the back Mike was even with me on the right, I upshifted twice and broke left, in the drops, out of the saddle – I’ve seen Sagan and Cav do this a hundred times. Everyone gets dropped, I let loose of two grunts and put every pound of force I had in my legs to the pedals. Back and forth my Venge rocked. I pulled even with the front Mike. The back Mike, the fast Mike was coming up though…
Everyone gets dropped…
100 yards to go and there was no way I was going to let it be me. 28 mph into the wind… 50 yards, and I was alone. Up front.
Everyone gets dropped but the guy who wins the sprint, and last night was my night.
Now, for the rest of the story – I hope I wrote the first part well… Maybe brought you with me a little.
I was one of six B groupers who showed up for the final club ride of the year. There were only two A guys, Mike and Mike. The A guys kept our pace just to have a nice ride – they could have knocked the hell out of me, right up until that last few miles.
Still, proof positive, even a blind squirrel gets a nut every now and again. While it may very well have been a weaker field, I ended up being the strongest of those who showed up and that is saying something. A fitting, fun end to my awesomely fun season.
To my real racer friends out there, please don’t take this post as some kind of cocky, “yeah, I kicked their ass” post. I know very well that it was only a club ride – and one with a weak field at that. On the other hand, I was the one who showed up, eh?
According to a recent study out of Denmark, women who jogged regularly increased their life expectancy by 5.6 years. But long-term benefits shouldn’t be your only motivation to hit the pavement. Here are some immediate perks to those who run:
Improved sleep patterns
An increase in serotonin, dopamine and endorphins
Feelings of relaxation and happiness (thanks to the brain chemicals listed above!)
Improved self-esteem and confidence