Sunday, 6 August
Withdrawals. Nobody warned me about this part of tandem racing, and I don't get used to them. They are wicked. Especially when there’s no next fix on the calendar and your dealer left the business. Short of a good cry or a hissy fit, there’s not much to do but play the field. Enter Sal. Or, rather, drag Sal in.
Salvatore and I had a date this morning at 9:39 in Peoria, Oregon: the Oregon State 40-kilometer time trial. As I was driving to our early rendezvous, there was not a cloud in the sky or a breath of wind. Warm sunshine was spreading across the Willamette Valley. A favorite song was playing. I was on my way to race a 40K TT. On a tandem. Life was looking waaaaay up. I could not contain my happy grin.
This was a championship event for everybody else, but we were riding for prize money. And I secretly (well, I guess it wasn't so secret) wanted to break the course record for mixed tandems: 55:31. Carl and Kim set the record 2 years ago when there was a scary fast tailwind on the way out and devastating headwind on the return.
Peoria is a collection of maybe 10 houses and park and a church. This time trial is probably the biggest thing that happens there every year. So it's hard to imagine, but it took Sal and I 30 minutes to find each other in this speck of habitation. Cell phones were invented for a reason, I guess. Setting up the bike up for me was quick; I opted to stick with the stoker's saddle already on the bike instead of using mine. That turned out to be a mistake, but not too critical.
Off we went to warm up. The bike worked fine, we worked fine, we even got out of the saddle without much ungainliness. It all seemed pretty smooth to me; Sal doesn't pedal in squares or push a weird gear or ride all over the road. And he didn't complain about any bad habits of mine. All in all, we were pretty relaxed and leisurely before the start.
3 recumbents and another mixed tandem went off ahead of us. One of the 'bents did this course last year in something like 42 minutes, so we were confident we wouldn't be seeing him again. Our start was smooth and straight (sans holder) and off we went. We rode probably 90% of the course in the 54x14--it's a flat course, and the wind just did not materialize today. We passed the tandem in front of us maybe 10 minutes out, and one of the recumbents after the turnaround (he tried to repass us, and I think that fired us up a little bit), but I didn't see much else along the way. Somewhere about 15K into it, I realized that the saddle was wider than the one I'm used to and was making my glutes sore. At about 25K, my hamstrings were calling my name in a way they never have before. But other aches and pains that developed during tandem racing in July were silent.
I used my favorite mantra to stay focused on, well, staying focused. We were smooth and steady from start to finish. There are no hills or corners so no reason for me to ever look up from admiring the paint (it was yellow) on the top tube. I knew the course well enough to sense when we were approaching the turnaround. I knew too when we were coming to the finish (a couple of bridges, then a couple of stands of trees, then "the town"), so I was prepared when Sal asked for more for a last kilometer of effort. The problem was that he was a little premature, and so we were winding it up from 1.5K out. Oh well, it was gonna hurt anyway, and I don't think there was a whole lot of acceleration left.
Our time was 56:03. As I was trying to come to terms with not breaking Carl and Kim's record, the chief referee and race organizer started hearing complaints that the turnaround was in the wrong place this year. The final determination was that we all raced 41K instead of 40. So while Sal and I didn't set a new course record, our average speed was faster than Carl and Kim's, and our 40K time was well under theirs. I'm thinking we should all be happy--and try for even better next year!
As I was basking in the glow of today's tandem fix, I fielded one question over and over: "how come you only raced once today?" Well, the women started right after the tandems, and it was physically impossible to race tandem and either my age group or my category. They would've let me start with the men 3s or 1-2s, but I couldn't see myself getting motivated for another 40K in which I would've probably been DFL. Better to do just one and have a ton of fun. Thanks for the fix, Sal!