Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Hammerfest 1

How do you follow a half marathon?  Extra sleep? Check.  Massage? Check. Plenty of slow movement to limit muscle lock up? Check.  Bicycle time trial? Check.

Several weeks ago I entered the Southern Indiana Triathlon Team's May edition of the monthly Hammerfest time trial series.  Then, about a week later, I acquired a bib for the Indy Mini.  I had a decision to make. And I made the one that made the most sense to me. I chose to race both events - provided that I did not get injured running the Mini.  Well, if you are following this blog you know about my Mini experience. Now for a short tale of a 12-mile bicycle time trial called the Hammerfest that took place about 58 hours after I finished the Mini.

Details.  The Hammerfest took place in a tiny burg called Hatfield, IN, which is about 15 miles east of Newburgh, IN.  Due to flooding, the 12-mile course was rerouted for this first month.  We rode an out and back course with seven turns on pancake flat roads that ranged from smooth asphalt to wrinkled and patched chip and seal.  It was a course sufficient enough to produce fast speeds if the legs were able and the mind willing enough.

I was scheduled to start near the end of the starting order at 6:32 pm.  Due to appearances at a faculty meeting and a track practice after school, I arrived at the Panera on Evansville's east side with little time to spare.  In fact, I would not have stopped at all accept that I was famished.  Well, not really famished, but I certainly was hungry having eaten only one meal on the day.  I knew my body was going to rebel against a hard ride anyway, so I wasn't going to give it another reason to quit by racing on an empty stomach.

So, I inhaled half of my bowl of black bean soup before standing up to rush out with the mocha as soon as the young lady had prepared it.  I was in and out in 6 minutes. Or so I thought.  A man sitting next to me asked me to help him install his new Norton Antivirus on his laptop.  Go ahead and laugh! I did! The poor guy had no way of knowing about my neanderthal computer abilities.  Why and how I was able to read the instructions and tell him how to do it, I do not know.  I laughed and shook my head thinking about the Geico caveman commercials. But the four minutes that took would turn out to be crucial.

It would be an outright lie to say that I did not attempt to speed all the way through Newburgh.  I tried!  But the cars in front of me would have none of it.  They formed a perfect three-car wedge across the highway. Grrrrr! Luckily for me, those same cars continued through the construction zone east of town - and most of the way to Hatfield.

I pulled off of the road in Hatfield about fifty meters from the start/finish line.  My watch said that I had less than four minutes to get to the line.  Both Kristy and Faith were in the back of the RAV with only their front wheels removed.  I chose Kristy, the '09 Kestrel Airfoil Pro, simply because she did not have a tool bag under the seat. I wonder now if Faith, equipped with Hed 3's, would have been faster on the flat course under the influence of 5-10 mph SSW winds.

While running to the start area I told Jeff, an old running friend and the guy in charge, that I did not want them to wait for me or to have me go out of line.  Then I moved quickly to shed my pants and don my aero helmet and race number (which was quickly pinned to my back by an expert pinner who drew not a single drop of blood!).  Then I hopped on Kristy and road a short loop of a couple hundred meters.

When I returned to the line Jeff told me that I would be started as soon as the next rider finished.

Once rolling, I was surprised at how peppy my legs felt.  I clicked off the first mile in 2:10 - hey, I'm a runner, so that is how I think.  Everything was working well as I shifted through the first couple of turns and hit miles in the 2:1x's.  I knew I had a tailwind, so I surmised that I would suffer greatly on the return as the wind and fatigue from the Mini would surely unite and rise up against me in the closing miles.

At about 1.5 miles I steered Kristy across a steel grid bridge surface. Oops! Tires danced and slid side to side while the rims gently bottomed out several times. Oops!  In my rush I did not even think of inflating my tires.  Since the bikes had been in the RAV for hours on a hot day, I had lowered the pressure that morning. The front had maybe 50 psi and the back less, maybe 40 psi.  Dang!

As the miles passed I caught up to a few of the riders in front of me. One of those riders was a 12-year-old boy who was showing some great form and grit near the turn-around.

The wind did attack me, but it was minimal. And the fatigue did set in, challenging my form and making me want to stomp on the pedals, but I resisted. A couple of the splits hit the upper 2:2x's and I got really mad. I'm certain many cyclists know what I mean when I say the fire was burning in my thighs and arse. Luckily, it was burning hotter in my mind.

The dancing tires on the bridge did not surprise me on the return. A minute later I made the last right-hand turn into an arrow-straight mile long stretch of road to the finish. I ignored the building pain, clinched the aero bars tightly, and started concentrating on smooth powerful pedaling as I steered Kristy toward the finish line. The last mile was as fast as my first - 2:10.

The total time for the 12-mile ride was 27:39 for a 26 mph average. Though it was not a stellar time, I am more than happy with it since I have ridden less than two dozen times since the thug attack of last August. I am more than satisfied with my overall fitness and extremely happy with my ability to fend off pain. I will have to ignore much worse pain in the upcoming months.

This was a well-run, low-key event that can be described as fun. It was also, for me anyway, therapeutic.

I am thankful to be able to ride at all, let alone fast. When I consider the lingering nerve damage from the attack las August and having recently had more skin cancer removed from my body, I am taking nothing for granted. I also do not want to sit idle while my life passes by. And I want to GO FAST whenever I can!!

The Hammer I won and the award I gave myself!

Throughout the ride this Paul Thorn song played in my head , , ,

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