Perfect weather for a bike ride . . .

October 2, 2007

From the Archives: Journals from 2002

November 21st, 2002

It was a little cold out for a ride today --- left the parking lot from work at about 3:15pm – headed north into the first hint of a hard Kansas winter: 20-30 MPH winds in the face…chilling, and hard to pedal into… I made my way to 99th St., and then ended up stopped at the light at 99th and Metcalf, waiting behind a minivan for the green light. The stiff and unforgiving wind was causing my loose front derailleur cable to slap against the down tube of my frame, like a rope against a flagpole. >ting, ting, ta-ting<…the product of a stripped bolt that removed from me the option of shifting front chain rings until the replacement part arrives. Seems like something new breaks every week on this thing as I pile on the miles. As I stood there, the ‘tinging’ was replaced by an engine coming up behind me, an interesting rumble emanating from something – not a car….hmmm…motorcycle…sounds kind of odd, though.

So I turned around – not something I normally do on the bike, because you never know what the guy behind you is thinking about that bicyclist in front of them. Could be misconstrued as a dirty look, I suppose. But this time, I went ahead and turned around – and I come face to face with this younger guy on an old Honda, I think a 400cc, but not sure. The badging was worn, maroon sun-faded gas tank, chrome fenders, short touring bars, no windshield – I asked him what year it was: “1973” he beamed over the engine noise with a big grin and a nodding head. He must’ve been barely 20 years old, but he knew what he was riding. The good stuff…class… style… unique… and instead of Harley Davidson leathers and gloves, he was dressed in a monochrome sweater, ski cap – looked like he was transplanted from the Boston college crown or something… refreshing. He went on to say that “its loads of fun, but every week something new breaks!” He didn’t seem to care too much about that, however.

It sounded oddly familiar.

Shortly after, the light turned green, and as I clipped in and charged across the intersection I got an ear-full of what the old Hondas sound like… throaty, purposeful, urgent – but patient – if a motorcycle can invoke such things.

And yes, it was a little cold out for a ride today, but like me he was simply out for a spin on his favorite two-wheeler.

We exchanged waves, and blazed our own trails… there is something universally magical about being on two wheels, now matter what the power plant.

kG






11/09/2002 -- tHE rIDE THE rOCKIES rEUNION rIDE -- OR RTRRR!!!

Looking at the temperatures and then looking at the date for this ride, you have to ask, as we did - THIS IS NOVEMBER??? Yup, it got up to 72º during the ride, and a rare weekend to enjoy some serious riding with some serious compadres. Jim from RTR was in town, having moved to Denver a few months back we had not seen him SINCE RTR in June -- it was awesome to see him again, and to see how, living near the very mountains RTR took place on, the training was treating him. Colorado had done him well, him having dropped about 15 lbs. and several inches off his waist. Climbing, climbing, and more climbing - he was loaded with stories about riding in Colorado, exploring mountains and passes - jealousy set in - for both the riding improvement, and the weight loss -- I'm still not quite reaching my goals in that department, but this winter will see a serious effort on just that. Anyway, then there was Katie from RTR, also someone I had not seen since the big ride. It was nice to catch up again, and to see the prized Litespeed bike in action. Also in attendance was a good amount of her friends from the triathlon crowd, including Ironman competitor and Bike Source poster-girl Genne, then Bob, Guillermo, Allison and a couple others whose names escape me at this writing.
After a photo session in the driveway (still waiting on those shots, Kate!) and some random tire pumping and helmet-fussing, we were ready to roll -- we rolled out as a group, but that was the last time we'd truly stay as a group. Dale was back in town, too, up from Pittsburg, KS, and it would be typical Dale riding - who could expect anything less? After the two-mile marker, he attacked! I had no choice but to follow, and I chased hard to reel him back in, just in time for the climb up 143rd from Antioch to Metcalf. i was squarely on his wheel, and fully expected someone to come up to us -- most likely Jim, maybe Katie, but no one challenged. We stopped at the intersection at 143rd and Metcalf and waited. First to arrive was Katie -- scolding us with "companionship, guys!" She was half-kidding, because she knew all too well from June what can happen when Dale and I start sparring on the road. We all regrouped and were soon off again. Dale took point, and for a short while the group stayed together in a nice long paceline. Then it was my turn at the front, after someone suggested that we ride to the right of the cones thru the construction zone, since it was down to one lane -- my shorter 'splinter' train managed to pass up Dale, and soon we were all long and strong again on the right side of the cones - we approached 151st St., stop light. My pacing skill into the wind proved to be too much for the majority of the group, unfortunately (need to learn control at the front) - I had managed to break up the line pretty good. Not 100% sure what the morale of the group was at that point, because of the heavy pace, but I was just doing the work for once and it felt VERY good -- looking back at RTR, I had spent most of the time in the BACK of any pacelines that formed, and always ended up off the back after a short while. After a full summer of commuting to work by bike, I was better trained and felt fresh and strong -- I was enjoying towing the line, not about to make apologies.
I continued my pull after the light changed green, all the way up the long hill from 151st to 159th on Metcalf, the light at which changed to green JUST as we arrived at the intersection, continued to pace across the intersection and fully intended to continue down Metcalf -- this was near the beginning of the 5-mile long climb to 199th St. -- some undulating, but primarily uphill the whole way. But, as the cards are often dealt, as I enjoyed pacing the line from the front, some stronger riders were resting up behind me. Suddenly, Dale appears to my right, joining up for a double paceline attempt - a few riders tucking in behind him. We chatted a little about Tom, another RTR rider that was still in Louisiana, and then a short downhill came up -- and that was it for me. With a rush from the left, it was Katie, Allison and Guillermo, charging hard and attacking the downhill -- I was enjoying a respite from pedaling, having pulled for almost 4 miles, and simply could not answer - but Dale could -- giving hard chase and with a flurry of gear changes, Dale was quickly up the road and latched on. I figured they would start to drift backwards, but as I watched, the quattro of riders began working together, advancing up the road. I had to do SOMETHING, so I shifted and began to work and breathe. No one else would get by me today - not here - I was going to bridge.
First to drop off was Guillermo -- Dale's pace was too strong, and he cracked under the longest part of the climb, before 167th St. I caught up to him about a minute later, but his pace was purely recovery - I wanted to catch the leaders, so I passed. I worked hard, uphill, into the wind which was increasing, and occasionally checking up the road to see my progress - if any. It was slow going. Dale KNEW I would chase, and he was not letting up a bit. Still at the front, he towed hard. We didn't call the Warbird "the king of Metcalf" for nothing -- this was where he trained for RTR, and it showed. This was his house, and I was getting schooled again. Save the fact that it was three against one at le tete en course, and I was holding the losing hand. There would be no glory today --- Each opportunity to close the gap was squelched by a blistering threesome about 1/4 mile up the road.. I never lost sight of them, but I only gained maybe a handful of seconds overall by the time the intersection at 199th and Metcalf arrived, and a welcome rest at the Conoco. Dale, Kate and Allison -- my sweat-soaked cycling cap is off to you. There was no catching that train.
Slowly recovering my cardiovascular system on the sidewalk outside the gas station's food shop, I waited and waited, looking back south on Metcalf - waiting for teh next riders to appear. My only prize was the massive gap I had opened up between myself and the next rider back. It was Jim, with Guillermo in tow, but the gap I'd created was nearly three minutes wide. Unreal -- Jim was handicapped by teh fact he did not have his regular bike - his battle-proven Cervelo Prodigy was resting at home in Denver, and today he was riding a borrowed and aging Cannondale multisport bike, and the difference was detrimental -- too bad, really. I was hoping to see what months of training in the mountains would do for one's Kansas performance, but not all things were equal for Jim today. Minutes later, still, a couple more riders showed up, with the news that Genne had turned back with her knee issue bothering her. After a little regrouping, we decided to continue the route east on 199th -- the original plan had been to get down to Louisburg for cider and donuts, but that will have to wait for another weekend - time was running out for a few people on the ride, so it was tiem to head back to Katie's place. We mounted up and started the short jaunt east on 199th to Mission Rd., and FINALLY a break from the headwind that had plagued us all the way down so far. In typical fashion, Dale chomped at the bit, then Katie, then Jim. I was hard pressed to hold myself back -- it felt so good to ride with people again, but I seemed to be programmed to ride against them. We jumped the railroad tracks and continued towards Mission for the miracle-run northbound that awaited us.
As the intersection approached, I knew what it was going to be like. The wind out of the south was howling at 25-30 MPH, and everyone was going to want a piece of it. At this point, I was at the front, Dale right behind, then Katie, and the rest of the line stretched out behind us. This was supposed to be a group effort, but when we turned that corner, it was going to be a free-for-all. Especially when Dale and I ended up on the same channel, mentally, and made eye contact with a pair of strong-looking riders heading north from 215th and Mission -- they had a stop sign on the south end of the intersection at 199th and we had the way thru -- I gave a quick signal for the left turn, checked my six, checked my noon, and gave a quick salute to the two other riders, who had already sized us up and targeted us. It WAS ON...
I shifted and began to accelerate with the newfound push from behind, and then there was that familiar voice in my left ear -- it was Dale: "common, Keith -- let's go, man ..." that was all I needed to hear; SHIFT -- hammmmmmmer.... soon, we were over 30 mph - and holding it. Dale took point, and lifted the pace higher up to about 33 mph - still holding... then Katie appeared on my left -- letting out a holler "this is AWESOME!" She had been riding with a lot of slower riders, and was commenting on how cool it was to uncork like this. Indeed -- I had been riding solo for so long, I had forgotten what an absolute rush a trio of highly-trained cyclists with a monster tailwind could be, and this was a THRILLER. My turn at the front, just as the road pitched up slightly -- I managed to hold pace at 29 MPH, and then Katie mentioned the pace was getting too stout - so we backed off a bit --- still holding off everyone, though! The closest pursouivant was more than 1/8th mile back. We were in fine form, and coming up to the best part of the leg: the DROP. Dale and I both knew it was coming, and knew it well -- the plunge to 175th St. was just ahead, and we both began to raise the pace again -- I was one click away from being in top gear, and the descent had not even begun! And then it came -- the pavement fell from underneath our front wheels, and bearings began to spin up and sing in the gravity-induced haze of speed an aggression. the Warbird let out the trademark battle cry, hammering, as I pulled myself down into a tight tuck -- and in a flurry of spinning legs and spokes flashing in the sun, paint, skin, sweat, saliva, lycra, and adrenaline, it was over -- with 49.7 MPH o show for it on the max. speed clock. A few quick "S" turns and then the spoiler or all stop-signs at 175ht, which we barely slowed for. What a rush -- behind us, our pursuers did not stop or slow down -- they rushed thru the stop sign, hot on our tails Dale and I, chatting away, oblivious, had nearly forgotten about them, from the intersection back at 199th St. As Dale lifted out of his saddle to climb a curvy rise in the road, and I lifted out of mine to answer, there they were. out of the corner of my left eye -- yellow, not Katie, or anyone else in our group for that matter -- the same yellow I saw at 199th St. No time for introductions -- those formalities would come at the top of the hill at 159th And Mission, after Dale and I show them who trains the hardest. Team Spam - that's who.
Dale and I, again on the same wavelength, began to lift the pace once again, and soon we were again putting distance into our rivals, at the most difficult part of Mission Road. Around a corner, up a steep hill, another hard corner, then a flat section across a bridge -- Dale and I worked, then I took point, we crossed the tracks, and the big hill began -- the pavement pitching nastily up towards 159th St. Not even a look backwards, I kept the cadence up and hammer it home, fully expecting to get passed by Dale or someone else. It didn't happen. I don't know how, but between Dale's Pittsburg-bred lack of hill-exposure, and my constant commuting, I had the upper hand here -- it felt WEIRD. From behind, 2/3rds of the way up the climb, I hear Dale "..you got me..." and that was it.... unreal.
After reaching the top, Dale was quickly joining me, and then about 30 seconds later were the pursuers -- face humbled, and sweat apparent -- finally crossed the intersection, with a humble exchange of waves. Right behind them was Katie. Victory -- not an unfamiliar occurrence when you ride with Team Spam. Another regroup, and we were all off again, northbound Mission and another big hill in store -- to 151st St., this time with Allison and Dale leading up the ascent, but I managed another gravity-mass advantage and overtook them both by the bottom. I actually cannot wait for the day when I don't have that much of a gravity advantage that way. Need to lose the gut, and save the power I built from lugging it around all this time. Allison, Dale and I formed a mini-train and worked out way to 143rd, then across Metcalf, and across for the last big chance to see what I was made of: the monster hill right after Metcalf, westbound 143rd St., which thankfully did not get graded flat in recent construction, was looming -- and I wasn't sure how much push I had left in me, but I gave it a go. Pacing behind Dale, I waited my moment and then poured on just a little bit more about half-way up the hill-- it worked, or at least no-one answered, and I crested at the front. I know if all things had been equal, Dale could have and would have easily knocked me off my little perch, but today I was enjoying the head seat of a very elite group.
Later, at 135th and Antioch, a sprint from the line proved exciting, as I again held off the worthy chasers -- and felt fresh and strong all the way back to Katie's driveway. a short 25 miles that felt like 50 with all the headwinds and climbing -- with an average speed of 18.6MPH -- not bad at all, considering! And, for our efforts, Katie's standby crew in the kitchen had prepared muffins, bread, hotcakes, OJ, hot syrup, honey, coffee, and more - a feast that quickly disappeared into the stomachs of hungry cyclists. A perfect end to a perfect ride. Fat and happy, we sat and talked it up, and cooled down -- it was good to be in company again -- commuting has its rewards, but it is lonely. I will remember this day for a long time....

[ /<(- ]











10/01/2002

I’m feeling like a Porsche in a sea of Fords. It’s becoming more and more like fall, and with the dropping temperature, the multitudes of pure recreational cyclists are pulling the bikes down out of the garage for afternoon spins on the bike trail and residential streets. I feel like that knight standing in the woods, waiting for weeks – sometimes months – for a worthy challenger.

I find myself normally content in my own thoughts as I ride between jobs. Did I remember to change my voicemail? Car coming up from behind… I wonder what the wife is doing right now… darn squirrels… I wish that sprinkler over there was just a little closer to the curb… car up… no, he’s turning… I hope 103rd St. isn’t busy today… pot hole….

But lately, as the September weekdays become October weekdays, I find myself breaking my internal dialogue to spout ‘on your left’ a LOT. No spandex-clad boy-racers, not even so much as a road bike – just hybrids and mountain bikes topped with helmet-less, t-shirt donning recc-ies, out for a 10-mph flat-pedal spin – their shirts void of any indication of sweat, which is after all why they chose this season to ride – don’t hurt yourself, don’t suffer – cycling is to be enjoyed, not laboured over. Therefore, no draft to share; no sprint-finish to 101st and Lamar today. I am surrounded, yet totally alone. Even though I am bound to these riders by the bike, we are worlds apart – and most of that is MY fault. Even though I am only a handful of miles from home, I am dressed like a paid division-two rider on his way to a mountain-top finish 100km away from here, and I ride like the pack is only 30 seconds behind and gaining. My gloves have accents that match my headband which in turn complements the color scheme on my jersey, which conveniently agrees with my socks. I am scary and alien-like among the t-shirt crowd, but it is how I learned to ride – you dress to what you aspire to be, and you ride as if you are chasing your arch-rival. I’m not 100% peloton, but with my commuting sandals and backpack I’m closer to it than everyone I pass on these trails, which makes me wonder – what message am I sending? When I belch forth my passing-on-your-left greeting and fly by in a blur of spinning colors and sweat, what does that t-shirt think? Does he dismiss me as fanatic, wannabe, over-the-top? Or does he aspire – consider finally buying that jersey or that first pair of Lycra shorts? Possibly wish for speed and thrill, and trade that hybrid in on a conservative-but-faster road-sport bike? Or maybe he’s been off the bike for decades, and with his recent purchase of digital cable he just recently enjoyed watching his first Vuelta, and this is his maiden voyage – and I have become his target-incarnate. His ‘arch rival’ that HE is chasing…as I chase mine. One long peloton, spread over time and space.

Or maybe he was looking off into the woods on the right and never even saw me.

kG








6/30/2002 -- HOT -- like STUPID HOT. 90º by 9:30am, with really high humidity.
Very little wind.

“Tour de Lakes”
The 1st annual
Tom Logan Memorial Ride

-or-

The 1st annual Missouri heat-stroke party!



After a brief rest from the drive back to Kansas from Colorado earlier in the
week, and a couple of days of commuting to and from work, it was time for the
first official ride since returning from RTR. Dale and I both had high hopes
about performing well, and stomping some local butt....BUT, we hadn't bet on
the heat, nor had we bet on Dale showing up late to the ride itself. Ride was
scheduled to start at 7:00am, to help beat some of the heat, but Dale wasn't
ready to ride until about 7:20 --- no big deal: as saucy as we were both
feeling after having conquered the Rockies, we were not worried in the least
about this ride. Of course, the ride was covering some ground we had not
covered before, but whatever. We were stoked!

Finally we headed out - not a rider in sight up ahead on the road. This was not
an average MS150-style training ride, either. This ride had attracted nearly 100
riders of near-race or race caliber: KCBC had a few in the pack, Bike Shack, a
few triathletes and some other random local show-offs. And Dale and I started
out well off the back. Sure, this was not a race, but it was time to go to work
and bridge up as quickly as we could. We hit View High Drive, and enjoyed a
brief session with a tailwind -- got the speeds up to about 22 mph, and held it
there. We were accompanied by a nervous rider on a LeMond that was keeping up
and distracting us with idle chatter -- he was on a mission to meet up with
another group of riders on the other side of the Lake, but he helped break a
little more wind than Dale would have on his own, so I didn't complain too
much. However, we never got him to take the hint and get an actual paceline
going. RTR day 7 all over again, as he whipped around nervously, nearly
clipping Dale on one occasion.

Finally, at Raytown Rd and Highgrove Rd, our turn came up, and he went off
straight. It was time to kick it up a notch for the hill in front of us. Hill? What
hill? Dale and I exchanged banter about the fact that this 'hill' was not a
hill at all, compared to what we had just tamed out west....but still, it
required some downshifting and grinding on my part to get it done. Dale
advanced on the left, out of the saddle, and I stayed in the saddle and then
slowly grinded my way past him on the left a little farther up the rise. We
passed a ton of riders, including one that appeared wiped out on the shoulder.
He jut lay there, looking skyward with his arms above his head on the ground.
Yikes. It was kinda hot out here for 7:45 in the morning, I though to myself.
Carry on.

Dale and I worked well together, as always, and got to the downhill side of the
sizable roller for some 30 mph plus cruising. We overtook a few more riders,
and soon we were on the VERY badly paved Scherer Rd, east of Sampson, heading farther east.
Passed still more riders, but there were several in this group that would stay
with us for a while yet. There was little talking, as Dale and I worked harder
and harder thru the heat and bad pavement, and finally we got to Ward Rd for a
turn south. Raintree Lake was next on the menu. We hit the smoother pavement of
Ward, and worked again, but soon had a little chance to rest as Dale caught up
to a KCBC-clad rider and friend -- I conserved energy by sitting off the back,
and enjoyed the windbreak the three-abreast wall was creating. Dale is always
as strong as he wants to be --- just when you think you've got him, he's got
some reserves somewhere. I needed the rest!

After the chatter subsided, a traffic light changed and we all stopped. Light
turns green, and Dale is off the front. I manage to exchange a few pleasantries
with the KCBC guy, who almost seemed to recognize me (but from where? RTR?) but
then I noticed that Dale was escaping up the road ahead of a long paceline
that formed from a car-back situation. Once the car passed us all, I swung out and
passed the entire line (to my own surprise) and bridged back up to Dale just in
time for the turn into the Raintree Lake area. Dale and I rode together, off
the front, up hill and down for quite a ways, until the clicking of derailleurs
loomed up behind us --- there was a group of triathletes and other assorted
riders approaching that we had passed earlier. Apparently, we were setting the
target. So THIS is what the front feels like..... hmmmm...

Dale and I hammered on HARD --- a quick check of the computer clinched it: we
had averaged nearly 22 mph for the last 15 or so miles. This was BIG time for
me -- a very fast day, and I was starting to feel it....in my stomach. A
slightly upset stomach prior to the ride was starting to creep up on me, but I
tried to ignore it -- normally I can just ride past it, usually at the 12-15
mile mark, but this ache was hanging around for a little longer than normal.

No longer one to give up very easily, I pressed on at Dale's hectic pace ---
Mike Neven was the target, somewhere up the road from us.

We continued to hammer around the Raintree Lake area, picking off slower riders
and dangling the pack off our backs as we worked out. Soon, we were back on
Ward Rd, and working hard I took the front and led Dale out of the mass of
riders that got confused at the stop sign. We launched off the front again, and
up and over series after series of rollers at near 20 mph up, and 35 and above
down. Awesome day, so far, and the miles were ticking by quickly. But my
stomach was still in revolt - I drank extra water and SE mix - trying to stay
on top of things, but I needed a bathroom before long.

The couple fast souls caught up after a time; big, burly riders - one on a
Giant, and one on Cannondale - and stayed with us -- lots of people managed to
catch us, but very few went off the front after reaching us....we were laying
down the law!

A quick left turn came up, and the pace broke hard --- Dale was off the front
fast, as was a pursuer -- The Cannondale rider and I were left behind, but not
for long -- a few turns later, deep in residential, on patchily paved roads, I
managed to bridge the gap again to Dale, and picked up a few riders from the
Raintree Lake pack again. We all advanced up to Dale, and kept the pace hot,
although I was slipping --- a few well placed stoplights were the only thing
keeping me in contact with the front at this point --- so much for stamina,
although my stomach and lower intestine pain was building, and cramping - I was
not going to use it as an excuse. Dead-set on catching up again, I pressed on
harder, and bridged up solid again for the paceline, disorganized as it was at
times.

Dale was strong, showing no signs of letting up as we passed by Mark Ash in a
flurry of spinning pedals and quick ‘hello’s -- we all rejoined at the top of the ramp for the
road the passed over I-470. Waiting for the light and concerned about his own computer’s accuracy, Mark asked what our mileage was thus-far, and the reading was 29.04 -- with an average speed of 19.7 MPH !!!!! What the??? We were hitting it REALLY hard -- harder than I was used to. This was not typical territory for me.
Even Dale was breathing harder than usual. And we were both coated in a thick
layer of salty sweat. It was a little disarming, because only a week ago the ultra-low humidity in Colorado barely caused us to break a sweat, even in the heat of a two-hour long mountain pass climb. I was losing electrolytes at an alarming rate,
and I was running low on SE -- I had plenty of water, but that was just
diluting what I had left. Yikes. Plus, the mistake of no breakfast - not even a
pre-ride shake - I had not anticipated that this ride would be tackled at this
level. Oh well --- press on -- almost halfway there.

Over the highway, and onto the frontage road -- more bad pavement -- I took the
front, then Dale passed and took off up the road. I didn't have it in me to
jump hard, but after a few minutes of pacing in his shadow about 1/8 of a mile
back, I started my bridge AGAIN....not knowing where I was able to still pull
from, I bridged again to Dale, passing him with "you're a hard man to
bridge up to..." --- there was no reply, which was weird -- Dale was
WORKING hard, and frankly, I was working harder than I should have been.
Traffic light --- and the last few seconds of a green left-turn arrow --
SPRINT! ...and Dale and I sailed thru the turn, leaving our pursuers stuck at the
intersection behind us --- not that this was a race, again. We sure were
treating it like one, though....

Dale had quite a bit left after that, and I popped hard for the first time -- As
Dale advanced up the road, and around a corner, my speed dropped to about
17-18, and I began to fade. The pain reminded me that I should be looking for a
bathroom, and not Dale's rear wheel again. But, there was no bathroom to be
found here. Press on.

A few more turns, and Lake Jacomo was the scenery -- Dale was still slightly
visible up the road, but I was out of steam, unable to chase anymore, though I
was still clicking away at 18-20 mph. The pain was still building in my gut,
and general fatigue was taking over --- DRINK! I was taking it in like nobody's
business. If I could be accused of never having drank enough on previous rides,
I was making up for it today. My hydration pack was nearly half empty, after only 37
miles, and my concentrated SE mix was dwindling. In retrospect, I probably drank too much, and made my stomach condition worse in the process – but the heat was unbearable, and my mouth was as dry as an Arizona lake bed.

BIG hills inside the Lake Jacomo park -- and fast, short downhills made for a choppy
performance at best. It was like a hyper-compressed version of RTR, smashed into a
few miles of road. 1/8 of a mile of climbing at 13% grade, followed by a 1/4
mile descent at 45+ mph, followed instantly by another steep, short ascent at a
knee breaking 4 mph in my lowest gear -- UGH! This was more intense than
Shawnee Mission Parks' roads. PAIN was huge -- my legs were losing their
willingness as my gut wrenched in agony, and my sweating became more profuse --
my heart was coming out through my chest, and I was YAWNING a lot for some
reason....??? Weird! Press on.....eventually, I would be out of the park.

A few riders passed...I was caught, but none of them looked familiar to me...when
did I pass THESE people? Then came shouts from behind ---

"Keith!" it was Mike Neven (?) whuuuh? If we exchanged words, I don't
remember -- he advanced past me up the road, and around a bend, but I did hear
him say that Dale was with him....was there a stop I missed???

Dale advanced slowly by, and took in enough air to gasp "dude, I'm
cooked..." and advanced up the road as well... I was cooked, too....

Time to back off the pace more, and try to regain myself. A few short hills,
some descents, a curve and a WHAM!!!

HILL from HELL. ..and making matters worse was the mental challenge of trying
to figure out why DALE HIMSELF was STOPPED on the side of the road at the base
of the climb, his face awash with fatigue --- it HAD to be a flat tire....

"I'm done -- I can't even get the pedals over one more time, man."

Unreal.....and a big hit to my ability to continue. Normally, when the ‘opponent’
falters, one of two things can happen -- you can take advantage, and gain
ground -- or you can start to doubt your own condition. If the invincible Warbird
had fallen victim to this brutal ride, what was *I* still doing in the
saddle???

"I'll meet you at the top..." I gasped....and cranked out the last of the
monster hill -- not a challenge to show that I still had enough to climb the hill,
simply an effort to stay upright --- if I had unclipped right there, I would
have fallen over. With a dozen more cleat-snapping pedal rotations, I rounded the top of the hill, rolled to a little pull-off area at the top, and stopped -- got off the bike, and sat down in the gravel -- the pain was SO intense; dizziness, cold sweat, nausea, all washed over me at once. I was finished. At a few moments, I feared I would pass out. I was certainly
incoherent....there was conversation going on above me, but I could not really
understand what was being said.

The shade was nice -- drink water. That's all I
was really doing --- drinking water.

Dale showed up, on foot with bike. At some point, Scott Woermann showed up and
hung out for a little bit. As I faded in and out of sleep-mode (read: passing
in and out of reality), several voices, bikes faded from left to right behind
me, as riders passed us by, asking if all was okay. I was unable to answer.

On several occasions, I tried to get up on my feet - to ride on - only 15 miles
to go. But I couldn't get up. I felt like I was going to crash, pass out,
throw up, something bad. Scott offered to make a call -- his wife could come get
me.

I had never had to sag before, but it sounded better than trying to ride again.

The call was made, and I continued
to sit there on the gravel, and slept off and on until the
cavalry came. Before I knew it, I was sitting in an air-conditioned car, with
my bike in the back, on my way back to the parking lot at Longview.

Apparently I looked really pale. Scott's wife commented to that effect when we
were back in the parking lot at the Rec. Center. Scary.

I got into the car, opened the cooler, drank my Endurox (thank goodness I brought it) and about 4 bottles of water after that, having sucked my hydration pack dry on the side of the road a long time before. The amount of fluid I took in was far above and beyond what I would normally take in for a full day, riding or otherwise - and I was barely starting to feel 'human' again.

Meanwhile, Dale took on the remainder of the ride on his bike after the rest
period --- it was VERY cool of him to wait with me while the car was coming.

About 20 minutes after I was back at the 'farm', Dale showed up. He looked
absolutely SMOKED. Dripping sweat, flushed face, glazed eyes, veins popping out from his head - just absolutely BEAT.

He dropped his bike on the grass, and grabbed some bench.

"HOT" drink, drink, drink... "HOT" ...... ">>HOT!<<" He shouted, and then checked the grass to see if it was cool....it was.....he proceeded to lay down on the ground to cool off. Yikes.

After nearly an hour of cool-off time, we were ready to drive home.

What a friggin ride.

The next day, I emailed Dale and thanked him for being late, in all sincerity.
Really: as much pain as it caused, the next day, I was practically ready to
ride again - but DIDN'T, of course. I'm not crazy. But I am still a cyclist that
really doesn't like PAIN too much, and today I got a full serving of it. It was a serving I needed. I’ll never get faster without occasional punishment like this.

Extremely high average speed (for me) -- VERY HOT and HUMID -- stomach problems --
electrolyte loss -- dehydration -- and after 45 miles I still had an 18.7 MPH
average speed to show for it, after slowing down a LOT for the last 7 miles,
sometimes pushing the flats at a whopping 11 mph. Yeesh.

Dale again set the target -- and I didn't *HAVE* to follow so hard, but I
wanted to catch the pack, too. And I did...and passed them as they waited at a
gas station whose services I needed BADLY, but was too shredded to realize I had ridden past. As bad as this day was - it was hard speed-work, and I will throw my leg over the top tube in a few days and be stronger for it.

It was epic, and brutal..... Tom Logan kicked my butt.

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