IM Louiville

IM Louiville
Bikes racked at Ironman Louisville 2010

Sunday, July 08, 2007

It Takes Two

As CJB and I drove down to the 2 Man TT (Time Trial) this morning, I think we were both sort of "testing" each other out. What did we expect from one another? He's been riding very strong all year and I wondered how much I would hold him back. We always say things like, "Yeah, we're just in this for fun," and yadda, yadda, yadda. But the truth is that we're both super competitive and neither of us wants to let the other one down, so we end up pushing each other to the limit.

As with the other bike races I've done, there were lots of different team jerseys and a pretty huge bike-geek factor going on. Lots of aero helmets (sorry, CJB!), disc wheels and even those fancy shoe cover things that supposedly make you more aerodynamic. The intimidation factor is high and I start to wonder why I even try to compete at cycling events. I said hi to a few Apache members and CJB and I headed back to our bikes to get in a quick warm up. Even though we were one of the early starts, it was already getting hot out.

We waited nervously in the corral waiting for our turn to start. Neither of us was feeling very spunky today, but I think we both knew we would be laying it all on the line today, no matter how bad it was going to feel. The starter guy gave us a countdown and we shot out of the start quickly. Within seconds, our speeds shot up to 25 and 26mph. WOW, I thought, we're really flying! Even though CJB and I haven't done a ride together in....hmmm...6 months?....a year?....well, no matter, our exchanges, planned every 30 seconds, went very smoothly. We soon caught and passed the team that started just one minute ahead of us. The pace was still very strong, but it was early. And soon we would pay as we made our first right turn and headed into the wind. Crap. It was tough. With each pull, I could feel my legs working much too hard for so early on in the race, so I started cutting my pulls short. And CJB was a trooper and he held to the 30 second rule and sometimes even pulled longer. He knew I was struggling. The sweat was dripping off both of us as I kept trying to focus on keeping my cadence up. I couldn't wait for the next turn.

Around the turn we went, me in front this time (I was dropped fast on the first one), and stronger, more powerful winds smacked us in the face. I wanted this to be over. Dare I tell CJB that I couldn't do this any more? This was so hard, and every time he pulled in front of me, I would drop and have to ask him to slow down. I certainly wasn't having any fun at this point and I couldn't believe we had a whole second loop to do. The team we passed now passed us back and we had nothing more to give at this point. I again tried to focus on my cadence and kept waiting for the next turn.

On the third turn, we were met with a huge relief from the wind. Our speeds picked up again quickly and, once again, we passed that same team. I must admit, it felt good, but I also knew that we had to face those two terrible stretches again, so we shouldn't be hammering just yet. But it felt so good to go fast! We had to slow down considerably around the next turn as the team in front of us deliberately threw down a water bottle, but didn't make it to the side of the road, so it rolled around in the middle. A volunteer jumped out in the street to pick it up, but missed just as another team was passing us with their disc wheels. There was too much going on - the other team, the volunteer, and the rolling water bottle. The best way to get through that turn was to take it slow and make sure we stayed with rubber to the road.

Then we saw another team and I began the chase. CJB kept trying to slow me down, conserve energy. But the eye of the tiger gets the best of me and I pull and keep the pull enough to pass that team. It didn't take long for them to pass us back. UGH! I can't give up that easily, and I go after them again, this time just before that dreaded turn into the wind. Surprisingly, I take it much better this time and it doesn't feel quite as painful. CJB seems to be struggling a little and I realize that I made him do most of the work on the first loop. Oh man, this better not come back to bite us! So now I try to take a little bit longer pulls and our speed seems agonizingly slow. However, a look down at the computer shows 17-18 for most of the stretch and I decide that's not so bad for this ridiculous wind. We make the turn into the second-to-last stretch and once again, the headwind hits us like a ton of bricks and the speed drops considerably. Once again, every time CJB pulls ahead of me, I drop a bit back. But I refuse to ask him to slow down for me anymore, I just start hammering, knowing that once I jump on the wheel, it will feel better.

Now I'm counting down the miles for us. Our conversations are at a minimum as we both struggle for breath. I do feel like we were drawing strength from each other. Deep down, I was wishing he would just slow down so I could catch a break and I have to wonder if he was thinking the same thing. It would be so easy for us to slow down. But of course, neither of us said a thing as we kept pushing on.

I couldn't help but smile as we rounded the last turn. We were greeted with a nice tailwind and, just as in the first loop, our speeds skyrocketed back up to the mid-20s. GO! We have just 2.5 miles left. We went back to our 30 second pulls and with each one, each of us got stronger. I think this was our fastest stretch of the race and it was brutally hard, but neither of us let up. I could now see the finish and I shifted into the highest gear I had. I heard CJB yell "I'm off!" and I yelled "KEEP GOING, WE'RE ALMOST THERE!" I knew he could give a few strong pedals and he'd be right there. And so he caught up fast and we crossed the line with a strong finish and feeling great about the effort.

I know I couldn't have gone as fast without him. I only hope I was able to hold up my end of the bargain. Time trials are a great way for teammates to bring out the best in each other and encourage each other to continue and push on, even when you think you can't. I have no idea how we ranked compared to the other teams yet, but no matter what, we gave it our best effort and that feels good.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

man are these pretzels makin me thirsty.very good race .no matter how we place i gave it all i had and i'm sure ditto