Stoicism. It is a word unknown to most people, but a philosophy quoted often. “Stay calm, carry on” “God grant me the serenity…” “when life give you lemons…” are read often enough on Facebook. It’s a sound philosophy, that dictates when life gets hard, one must become harder. For whatever reason, many of my friends and myself have been struck by vehicles whilst cycling. Though we have varying degrees of pain and suffering, I hope that all of you can learn to keep your head about you.
93miles- 3 PRO’s in the field- many large teams represented. GO.
Pre-race I met up with Depasse (whom had won the crit on Sat). I just told him good work and congratulated him on his recent upgrade to Cat Uno.
Race goes off.
First 5 miles are just me and a few others trying to get a break going. How it started, I forget; but Gottwald, Ryan Cross, myself, and the Honey Badger himself were in a move. For the first 10 miles we worked well, all taking even pulls and eventually introducing ourselves.
By mile 20, Kevin told us that he had teammates back and couldn’t work anymore. We remained stoic and continued to pull evenly as three for the next 50 miles.
During that 50 miles Chris Gottwald muttered something to me. I didn’t exactly hear him over how loudly my legs were screaming, but I thought I heard German. So I answered in German. He gave me a quizical look and said he was from Dresden. We would converse in our Father tongue for the remainder of the race. Around the same mile marker the lead car told us we had a lead of over 5min on the field. Again- remain stoic and don’t get excited.
With 20miles to go Ryan instructed me to not let Kevin sit on anymore. I relayed this to Chris (auf Deutsch). And his reply was interesting, what he said translates to “Kevin is suffering”. Quickly glancing at Kevin, I replied to this with “Sterben bevor aufgeben”. Shortly thereafter the follow car came to us with information that a chase group was within 2minutes. (insert more stoicism). We began to work with reinvigorated energy.
10miles to go the suffering hit a different level. The chase was gaining ground and supposedly was within a minute and a half. Panic begins to creep into the break. We continue to take good pulls but it’s impossible to escape the doubt. We are the foxes. We are the hunted. But the break is not powerless, for we are masters of our fate.
7 miles to go- We hit a climb. Not as nasty as Bean Blossom, but nearly as long. I become unhinged from this group. The gap grows with my suffering. The others riding away. Legs are shattered but determined. I crest the hill and see that Kevin has been dropped with the couple ahead of him. From this point until the end of the race, I was motivated by 2 very separate things. First and foremost was being caught by the chase. Losing. Not cashing in on the suffering. Letting the torpid slothfulness in the field catch me. Second was the chasing. Catching Kevin. Catching the leaders. It was time for pain. Rage against the dying of the light. The world will not end with a wimper!
5miles to go- caught Kevin whom was in a circle of hell I hadn’t yet seen. Passed him. My headlamp was most definitely turned on, and I was spelunking around in the pain cave. It was possible that I came within 20 seconds of the leaders, and I didn’t dare look over my shoulder but for a second. I thought I fed the hounds when I passed the Cutter; but maybe they’re still hungry. The miles ticked down.
Right turn up a nasty hill to the finish. I turned off my Garmin. I wanted ignorance.
Finish- 3rd place. 40 something seconds behind the winner and 40 something seconds in front of the Honey Badger. He had held on for fourth. Obviously the wolves began to fight over the kill before it was made, letting the rabbits escape. I have no shame in second loser, but 85miles of breakaway is a hard way to race.