If This is Wednesday, I must be in Bloomington

The pull of the Bloomington Wednesday Worlds is stronger than even I imagined.  Strong enough to reach all the way to Washington, DC and pull this unsuspecting Bloomington satellite back into its orbit.  I was there this week for a conference with Big Brothers Big Sisters.   I decided to return a day early.  So I attended the Awards Gala at the Renaissance on 9th and Connecticut Ave, but set my alarm for 3am this morning, giving me enough time to return in time for WW!  After hobnobbing with keynote speakers like Alma Powell (Colin Powell’s wife and Nancy Lieberman (Basketball HOF), senators (Dan Coates), and colleagues, I was ready for bed.  I set my alarm for 2:45am.  I had driven there on Monday so I knew what lay ahead for me.  It’s a 630 mile trip and took about 11 hours. 

Well, the alarm didn’t go off, or at least I wasn’t aware that it did.  But still my cycling subconscience was able to rouse me from a deep sleep and I was up at 5am and in the car for 6am.  Washington is a beautiful city in the early morning.  A light rain was falling but the sun was shielded only by a thin film of clouds.   I was able to beat the traffic across the beltway and headed out of town through Pennsylvania, the mountains of West Virginia, then Ohio and Indiana.

My late start put me at the house at 4:30 tonight, so I didn’t have much time to prepare for the ride.  My last effort was Saturday and Sunday’s team rides which have been well attended.  A couple of days off the bike sits well with me as my racing schedule has been dashed on the rocks of reality as I sort myself in this new career.  The long drive was difficult on the body but I was glad to have made it home without DVT.  I dressed, gassed the tires, oiled the chain and headed out to the start.

I stopped by the Scholars Inn Bakehouse, had a brief conversation with Josh at the pizza ovens and a few other staffers and pocketed three bags of Granola for the customary prizes into an  old Campagnolo musette bag.  We’ve been doing a half way prime for the guys and a bag for each winner in the men’s and women’s event.   I stopped at the Bicycle Garage and chatted with Ren Jay, Fred and Jessie there. Lyle stopped by to try on some glasses.  A few customers were in and out and managed with grace by the staff.  We rolled out of the shop near 6 and met the group of over 30 at the Sample Gates.  It’s always enjoyable to me to see the spontenaity of racers rolling up to the start area, each with their own story, like mine; eating a small meal a few hours prior, preparing the bike, getting their kits together, filling water bottles, leaving with enough time to get to the Gates from their homes.  Somehow, we all manage to arrive, engage in some smalltalk and get ready to do battle.

It was especially encouraging to see so  many women at the ride.  Our women racers really have a lot of potential and the young riders look to the leadership of the established racers like Rondi, Liz, Lauren, Rachel and Emma to set the bar high. There is no doubt that with just a little nuturing, our women racers can attain the highest level of performance right here in Bloomington, through events like the Wednesday Worlds.

We made it to the course, with me talking a short cut to drop off the granola prizes at the start/finish.  We decided on 6 laps, just 24 miles and ther group had caught up with me at the start/finish.  I reset my computer, as it’s often the only way that I know where I am (how many laps to go) as the training race progresses.  The speed and attacks of this did not disappoint.  We had a stellar field of veteran racers that included, Cox (Aldefer), Kroll (Joes), Rose (Scholars), Atwell, Golaz (DRT), Palmer, Shei, Shanahan, West, DePasse (Nuvo) and Abdelkader (MOB).  Other contenders included me and Ibold (Joes), Feigenbaum, Walsh,  Wise, Kush (Nebo), Preske, Arvin (DRT), Davis (MOB) and a few others.  We split from the women on the runout to the first corner, then up the climb.  Attacks launched immediately and in various partnerships by Atwell, Shei, Kroll, Walsh, DePasse and Rose.  After 2 laps we were a smaller group with a couple of breaks having been pulled back by pack-splitting surges by Kroll, then Cox then Depasse then Palmer (showing that he has the strength of men 10 + years younger).  Nothing was sticking despite the counter punches thrown by Atwell coming off of some periodization training for TTs.  A small group managed to get off the front for the mid-way prime.  I could barely lift my head to see the mid-term result but Cox, Shei and Kroll seemed to be contesting it.  Cox came away with the prize.

The ultimate lap is a bit hazier for me.  With both calves cramping I found myself responding to a counter by one of West’s PDT men up the final climb to catch a fast departing Kroll.  I managed to attach myself to his wheel like a blood-sucking leech and then was unable to pull as we (he) approached Kroll.  I remember cars along side us up the climb, and we were passing (!) them as if in a dream.  I was brutally roused from this endorphin-laden stupor by two events, one was the honking of the Cummins diesel truck and the other was the shooting electrical pains in both calves, rendering me useless for the final test.  We were caught near the top of the climb and quickly passed in a flurry of activity by men with fresher legs.  I could only ride in on the wheel of the PDT rider as the race was up the road.  I stopped to pick up the granola to hand out ceremoniously as we rode back to town.  A quick glance at the computer showed that we averaged about 26.5 mph.  I don’t have the details of the finish, but the returning riders said that today was Rose’s day in the sun!  He’ll be supping on Bakehouse Granola tonight!