Friday, July 22, 2011

How I Could Talk Then

Sunday's road race was long and hot. Like I said earlier in the week, I was surprised when the high tempo and attacks came early in what was going to be a test of endurance in the upper 90F heat and high humidity. Despite sitting at the back for the first half of the race, I still felt like poo. I'd describe it as a feeling of riding a bicycle while running a fever of about 102F.

I was able to regroup after the break got away and the peloton settled down. We were riding at a much more comfortable pace. I had also unzipped my jersey for extra ventilation. But the biggest factor was the ice-cold water bottle hand-ups from MWCC volunteers Mike Munson and Kevin Gilinsky. That was huge.

Photo by Dan Farnam

Post-race, Eric O'Brien and I talked about our race strategy. Eric confided that the hill taxed him mentally. I agreed that it was tough, but continued to say that I focused on the cold water bottle at the top instead of the battle in the heat of the climb. In the end, my success was largely due to the cold water bottles.

I offer the following as testimony. At the base of the final climb, after nearly three hours of suffering in sultry heat, the pack was beyond beaten down. It was eerily quiet. There was no chatter. None were motivated to launch a preemptive strike. We were all simply toiling away towards the finish line.

But just as the road pitched up for the final time, I was suddenly overcome with a rush of adrenalin and found myself announcing to the pack, "Hey everyone, Spence just told me that he has volunteered to lead a bonus lap after we all make it to the top."

I'm not kidding, I really said that.

Chris Spence was wasn't in the mood. He bared his teeth and bellowed back, "How in the hell can you even talk right now, man?" He might have said a few other words with it, but that's the gist of it. Anyway, after saying that, his body seemed to deflate over his bike. He was a broken man, riding backwards as the pack surged ahead.

My hamstrings seized when I stood a moment later. I too was riding backwards. But at that point, it no longer mattered. For I knew that just a little further up the hill -- beyond the finish line -- a cold water bottle was waiting for me.

And that's how I could talk right then, Chris.

Happy Friday, Spence. Happy Friday, everyone


  1. You know next time we're on a hill and talking I'm going to bust out my best Spence, right?

    It's gonna be awesome.

  2. I'll look forward to it. Yours is one of the better Spence impersonations.