Friday, June 10, 2011

State Championships Are Earned at State Championships

I used to follow Charles Schultz' Peanuts when I was a kid. Sunday comics, books and holiday specials brought the peanut gallery to life. Favorites included Linus and the nativity scene, Snoopy as the Red Baron, Peppermint Patty and who could forget Pig-Pen.

But if I had to reduce it all down to one frame, I'd pick Charlie Brown, Lucy and the football. Somehow, Charles Schultz managed to capture the essence of Charlie Brown's tenacious character in that scene. How many times would he line up to kick that ball only to have Lucy snatch it away at the last second? It seemed that it appeared in in the Sunday comics about once a month, was in every comic book, and in every holiday TV special.

You got to hand it to Charlie for never giving up. For better or worse, he was resolved to accomplish that goal of beating Lucy at her own game.

My friend Mike Miles reminds me a little of Charlie Brown's character. Not in the blockhead sort of way, but because of Mike's tenacious character. Since I met him in 2009, Mike's road racing has seen more than a fair share of good chances at a podium snatched away by defeat near or at the last moment of the races. I can imagine the frustration of being so close and yet seemingly so far away. But despite the setbacks, he's one of the most dedicated racers around.

I've ridden a lot with Mike. He handles his bike well. He has good power numbers that come from calf muscles that look like volleyballs. Sprinting is one of his strengths. So you'd think he'd do well in a field sprint.

But like I said, often with the finish line in sight, victory has been snatched away. At last year's Babcock Road race, he was in good position for the field sprint when carnage broke out that sent him into a ditch. At the Pioneer Park Grand Prix a few weeks ago, another rider crashed in front of him, forcing him off the course. And if not for interference from other riders, then it's been a host of mechanical setbacks -- flats & dropped chains -- that have kept his number from making it into the final selection.

That's bike racing sometimes.

So at this past weekend's crit, our good man Miles was looking great, riding third wheel with a half lap to go. It was like Charlie Brown lining up to kick that football out of Lucy's hands once again...

The field rounded the last corner and began the final 400 meters of frenzy. It was going to be decided in a large field sprint. Though he was third wheel moments before, Mike was nowhere to be found. At about 150m, I distinctly remember thinking, 'where is he?' It was at that moment that Mike made his move. Suddenly, I saw his head pop up as he came out from hiding and was in a full standing sprint in tight traffic. John Lefler Jr. was swallowing the microphone calling the exciting finish.

photo credit: Devin Bethune
Looks like persistence paid off this time.

Congratulations on a State Championship, Mike Miles. That was a well-earned win.

Happy Friday, Mike Miles.

And happy Friday, everyone else


  1. There's a new set of photos from Lois Brunnert and Devine Bethune. Theres a couple of really good eye level shots of the sprint. If you look at the faces it shows just how painful that last lap was. All the faces are grimacing but none are as contorted as Mikes as he went for the win...Chapo!

  2. NOICE! I was wondering how it all played out. Congrats Mike, and nice reporting Brady!

    Revenge of the monster calves!