In the (Feed)Zone - Bike Racing

By: Mark Swartzendruber
Posted: Jun 14, 2016


This photo has a lot to do with bike racing. Maybe.

So – exciting news and we need some exciting news as the United States of America is now officially only 5 months away from becoming a Cormack McCarthy novel.  Not sure if it will be The Road, No Country for Old Men or even worse, Blood Meridian but by all accounts, we are on the verge of a cataclysmic end to civil order in November as either a person who has been under 30 years of investigation for everything from insider trading, murder, abdication of duty and careless use of email – all charges which were ultimately unprovable crimes of omission and commission but worse isn’t sufficiently liberal, or a person who actually has the lack of discipline so as to say out loud the things conservatives only think, or at worst only say out loud when they’re half way into a fifth of Old Grand Dad will become president.  In either case, we’re all doomed so live as much of your life as you can before inauguration day 2017 because after that, all bets are off.
TLK and I spent the week before and several days post Memorial Day up at the dump on the Frozen Lake doing more work, finishing trim, planning for cabinets in the tiny kitchen and generally taking time off to fish.

And enjoy a more quiet, more peaceful pace of life with Ti$za on board.

Between the rides on the pontoon which we’ve christened #driftwood, and the work on the dump I got out on my bike for some happy miles of unimpeded pedaling on virtually empty roads.
Master Bedroom almost done.

On Memorial Day I went out for a ride.  The weather was perfect.  The type of day that I wouldn’t under normal conditions hesitate to consider a 4 or 5 hour ride.  Cloudless clear skies and just a zephyr of a breeze with temps in the low 80’s.  TLK asked how long I’d be out.  “Just a short ride – I want to come back and do fun stuff with you”.  I’d envisioned a ride of 2 hours.  About 9 miles in as I was riding along the shore of Lake Petenwell, when I reached down for a water bottle and came up empty.  OOPS.  So, the two hour ride became a 1 hour ride and I called TLK when I got back to the dump.  She answered the phone from the boat.

“Come pick me up”

“Shit, I’m on the boat, where are you?”

“I’m in the dump walking down to the pier.”

“Thank God, I thought you’d gotten a flat or broke a chain out in the middle of Wiscotucky and needed me to come get you”

Thus, we spent the afternoon anchored in the quiet end of the lake, swimming with Ti$za, listening to music, enjoying the warm sunshine, and smiling.  A lot.

Meanwhile, a few hundred miles south there were bike races going on in the Quad Cities and Chicago Suburbs. Stone Pony won the Masters 50+ Quad Cities Criterium a day after winning the Melon City Criterium.  The ABD Masters weekend racing had been raging on all weekend and from what I understand there was good racing and everyone had fun, except the people who fell off their bikes.  

Me?  I can honestly report that not once this Memorial Day afternoon did I think “Damn…I missing a bike race.”
Friday June 3 former team mate JBo and I had a mandate to the Cubs game at Wrigley Field.  JBo is a good friend who was a SFR rider for 3 seasons and a good team member but as the circumstances changed with our team being largely either injured, occupied with other things, old – he became weak and was easily recruited away along with Mongo and Hard Cory to race with Burnham Racing despite the epically ugly white kits that show off their private bits with the faintest threat of precipitation.  The Cubs beat the Arizona Diamondbacks, who coincidentally were wearing ugly uniforms.

The next day, June 4 JBo and his band of fairy men raced at the Glencoe Grand Prix – in the  pouring rain and revealed their private bits to everyone in attendance.  David Reyes won the masters 30+ race. The race director was reportedly quite relieved that no one from Burnham Racing finished on the podium as he’d have contravened any number of Glencoe Village ordinances with what would have amounted to a wet t- shirt contest in front of a family audience and to the national live stream USA Crits audience.  Ryan Aitcheson of Astellas won the Pro 1,2.  Ryan won at the Urbana Grand Prix 4 years ago when he was still a teenager and has continued to show he’s a true talent.

June 5 I decided to enter my first competitive event of the season. It was exactly 50 weeks since I did my last race.  I decided to go back to familiar ground and do the 30k time trial around the Bong Recreational Area in Wisconsin.

The only time I’ve spent on my TT bike since doing the 30k TT Garden Prairie 50 weeks ago was an hours’ worth  on the trainer watching the Cubs on TV while the Burnham boys were flashing their private bits all over Glencoe.
After warming up for 30 minutes on the trainer in Wisconsin, I pulled my bike off, installed the rear disc wheel and took off into the wind.  I rode like a scared wobbledonk cat 7 experiencing his first time on a road bike.  I was shaky, I was uncertain and the  wind  was hitting my 808 wheel from the right making me feel like I was most certainly going to veer into  the lane  of traffic to my left.

“This is just not going to be good” I thought as I tried to get comfortable riding in the aero bars as the bike wobbled and weaved in the wind. 

“Jeezus, I’ve become a Fred.”

I turned around – very slowly – and rode back to my vehicle to swap the 808 on the front for a 303 hoping to gain some security with the lower profile wheel.  It worked out okay and I rode around for another 45 minutes, at times going fast, but realizing that going fast for more than a minute or two at a time was going to be really painful.

My only goal when I started was to not fall off my bike.  Anything beyond that would have to be considered a successful return to the circuit despite how embarrassing it would no doubt be.

I swear to you that the following is true:  I spent the first 10 minutes purposely riding through every bit of debris and gravel I could spot along the shoulder of the road, hoping for a flat tire and a legitimate reason to DNF as my body rebelled against what I was asking it to do.  “Can’t we just go back to the boat!?” my legs whined.  “I’m trying but these damn tires won’t go flat!” my brain screamed back at the screaming legs.

Finally, the internal conflict began to quiet and I settled into rhythm.  I refused to look at the Garmin unit on my stem.  I didn’t care what my wattage, speed or heart rate were. Not necessary today.  The only data that mattered to me was that I wasn’t off the road, lying in the grassy ditch from a crosswind gust.

When it was all said and done, I did the 30k in 40:49 with an average speed of 27.1 mph.  My average power output was 85% of what I’m used to doing, but all in all it was a decent return to action. Given that it’s been nearly 3 years since I’ve done a month with even 600 miles of training and nearly a year since I’ve turned a pedal in anger, I’ll take it.

Am I back?