August 09, 2017 (Buffalo, NY) – It seems like forever since my last report. To be honest, I haven’t felt like there has been much to report on in 2017. I have enjoyed racing this year as much as any other but after having career years in 2015 and 2016, the actual results this season just haven’t seemed like anything worth writing about. Sure I can write about personal growth and touchy feely life experiences but in today’s data driven world I believe people want tangible results.
Well in this report you’ll be getting a bit of both. The lack of results isn’t anything strength or fitness related. Believe it or not I’m still making gains at 41 years of age. I’ve just been misfiring tactically and a bit overwhelmed by opponents in strength and numbers as I have been racing mainly solo. So please forgive me if I’m a little out of practice with the whole “report” thing, it has been awhile and maybe just like so many races this year, there is a good chance I’ll mess it up.
I was really looking forward to this weekend. I had a birthday to celebrate and there was no racing on the calendar. I was contemplating some R&R when this FaceBook message arrived…”Please check out the Plan2Peak Two Days Of Buffalo. We would love to see you in Buffalo again” It was wild, the timing was perfect, and the wings there are well… you know. So I got on the phone to see if anyone wanted to come with me and Justin, Tim and his wife DaEun were “on” and we were off to Buffalo.
The goal here like many TT’s was to not go overboard in those first few minutes. I wasn’t going to average 500 watts for 10 minutes so I didn’t want to see 500 watts on my screen. I rolled out what I thought was kinda conservative and quickly got the effort dialed in. I was pretty pumped to see I was gaining some considerable time on the rider in front of me. I felt like I passed him doing double his speed. I was blown away how quickly the turn-around showed up but then that made me feel like perhaps I was blowing it. I felt like I should have been in agony wondering when it was going to appear. I had to make up time on the return leg…it suddenly felt like I was behind.
Then I looked at the time and I was doing more than ok – at 4:55 on the slower out leg meant I was moving. I came out of the 180 degree turn hot and buried myself all the way to the line. A Stage 1 victory with a time of 9:29 set a new course record beating the previous mark by 17 seconds. Did I mention how much I love Buffalo…and their wings?
Stage 2 was a 60-minute crit on a very fast course with no corners. I was confident we had the best three sprinters in the group with Tim, Justin and myself. I told the guys I was going to be very aggressive, even more than normal. I wanted Justin to be moderately aggressive and Tim was to do nothing but be our ace in the hole if it came down to a bunch sprint.
It was a very fast downhill sprint finish that had us licking our chops at in anticipation. The race was extremely fast and I was really having fun trying to animate things but nothing stuck and inside two laps to go it all came back together for a bunch finish. As we approached the start/finish line to get the bell lap I did my best Michael Buffer impression yelling “lets get ready to rumble” at the top of my lungs. This was going to be fantastic!!!! The group was lined out around a bend at 50+ kms an hour and I was sitting 5-6th wheel with around 600-700m to go.
Yet in front of me everything was about to change as a rider ahead turned to look behind as his bike veered. In a split second there was complete chaos. I was up on my front wheel braking, trying to avoid the carnage sliding across the road in front of me. I couldn’t save it and was over the bars slamming down on top of a pile of bikes and slid for what seemed like 30 seconds. The pain can’t be described. I don’t know what to focus on, it’s coming from everywhere. I rolled around in agony doing my very best not to scream and lose my shit. It took a while but finally I was able to make it back on my feet and head to the parking lot. Of the 10 riders in the pile up I was pretty sure I got the worst of it bleeding all over, with my ass hanging out of my kit. Every single rider sincerely asked “are you ok?” so nice… but I don’t know if I’m alright. I’m trying to get to the first aid tent to find out.
Saturday night wasn’t fun. Cleaning wounds, applying Tegaderm, moaning and complaining every time I made the slightest movement. I was 90% sure I wasn’t going to be starting the road race in the morning. I was having trouble breathing my ribs hurt so bad. A simple sneeze almost brought me to tears. I was in a lot of pain but couldn’t stop thinking about what some of my friends and family have endured and continue to deal with.
The morning came and I asked Tim and Justin to cover anything early. I figured it would take me a few minutes to loosen up and assess what I could even handle. If the group went all out from the start I figured I was going to be very vulnerable and I needed to be on a wheel at all time. Who knows what a sprint effort or hard breathing would feel like?
The boys patrolled the front and did a marvelous job being in everything. It gave me exactly what I needed and right around the 20-minute mark I made my move. I went up the side with momentum as six of us blasted off the front. There was full commitment immediately from everyone. We were going so fast and everyone was pulling like an animal pushing big gears. If they didn’t know right away I was “all in” with this move, they found out soon enough.
The task at hand and massive effort involved had me feeling nothing crash related. For the next 85km we steam rolled this breakaway. I was away with exactly who I needed to be with. All of them gave their best to the cause, even to the point of getting dropped out of the break. I tried my best to make sure that didn’t happen to me. I didn’t mind if guys missed turns, or sat at the back for a bit. We needed to get there together.
I don’t know why I needed to crash to race like this but obviously I did. All I can think of is how little reminders of how fragile we all are and how fragile the life we know is sometimes needed. How would you live if today was your last isn’t something many of us like to think about but maybe we should do it a bit more often. How would you race if you never got to do it again got me pretty fired up to give it my absolute best.
As I sit here typing, stiff, sore and with the stink of leaking Tegaderm bandages lingering around me, my hope is this somehow inspires you a little to do something great today. You decide what your great is, just make sure to live, love, play, believe, never quit and when in doubt with anything just tuck that feeling away and give it everything you have.
You just never know what tomorrow is going to bring
Thank you to the organizers of the Two Days Of Buffalo, to my teammates Tim Burton and Justin Rogers, to all our wonderful sponsors and to everyone involved with our RealDeal Racing cycling team.
Also big thank you to Buffalo… and their famous wings. GoBillsGo!