It’s the Master’s flat criterium saturday race and the pace is hot, the 35 racers are averaging somewhere near 26/27 mph. As Todd Lee explained, they wanted to start fast to shake the squirrely riders out of the mix. Like many races this year, I hung for most of the race, only to be doing the off-the-back tango to finish. The last few laps got the voices in my head chattering again. Here’s a recap of the conversation:
The Glass Half Empty Guy (let’s call him Devil): Another race where you’re getting your teeth kicked in, why not hang it up and just do this ‘biking thing,’ stay in shape and do some charity tours?
The Glass Half Full Guy (the Competitor): No way, you know this is just part of my comeback year from the knee surgery.
Devil: You’re nearly 50 years old, you’re not getting any faster, or growing new muscle fibers, come on...join a bowling team, paint the kitchen, people your age....
Competitor: Shut your pie-hole, Don’t you think I’ve heard this before. Remember what the fat sausage racer from the Central Ohio Disease Control used to say to us? “You suck, you’re too slow...loser” And like Chairman Fred, we ignored his taunts and let our legs do the talking.
Devil: Sure that was motivation, but this is reality. Even Fred is suffering here. You spent all last winter training, while Fred was off the bike, he’s coming into form, you might actually be getting slower.
Competitor: I spent 5 months on crutches, 6 more in PT, my resting heart rate is 45 now, I have the fitness, but...
Devil: Yeah, but not the force applied to the pedals. This is all about strength and power.
Competitor: Right, but I have not been able to build quad strength in the gym, I can’t do squats or leg press.
Devil: It’s called arthritis, you’ve got no cartilage in that knee joint. Haven’t you been reading the arthritis magazines that come in the mail every month? The ones with the baby-booming couples walking on the beach, doing light yoga and enjoying their middle years.
Competitor: And they look so happy while they are not over-exerting themselves...and most of them have full heads of hair too!
Devil: You know this is a losing battle, those people clapping for you are the same ones who clap for the special olympic competitors. The race is up the road, you’re wasting your time here.
Sammy: What about your team? The guys that come out every week and train/race with you?
Devil: Who the hell are you?
Sammy: Just another voice in Mark’s head
Competitor: It’s getting a bit crowded in here..
Devil: You shut up.
Sammy: No, You shut up...
Competitor: OK, let’s get back to the issue at hand, I’m suffering in a race, again.
Sammy: Hey, check out the tattoos on that dude by the start line.
Competitor: That’s not a dude, she’s a chick. Is ComFest this weekend?
Devil: Comon’ just stop pedaling. Pull over to the side, you’re embarrassing yourself.
Competitor: Maybe, but it is just part of the larger plan. Suffer now and race stronger later. And look, there’s George and Mike - they have been dropped too, guess I’ll finish the race with them.