No, not yet. For the hundredth time today I glanced at the clock and I still had hours to go. Having too much free time is not all it is cracked up to be.
It was a Wednesday, or more precisely May 15th, 2013. Why is this important? If you are to ask any of my cycling teammates you will get one answer: “Big strong guy, can’t handle a bike very well just yet.” So when it comes to going fast in a straight line, I am the guy they call. On the 18.9km (~12mi) back and forth club time trial course I was going to be in my element.
The hours kept dragging on. I checked my bike and equipment once more, I refreshed Twitter, Facebook and any kind of social media distraction I could find. It was finally dinner time at least, something to take my mind of worrying about what is yet to come. I was too anxious to even concentrate, so I made it simple.
It was finally time to leave and in my well rehearsed routine everything was neatly packed in the car. Couple of beeps and clicks later, the sexy British accented lady from my GPS was leading me towards Driemond. The end of the work day had spilled a calm over the small residential village and only the side wind was disturbing the trees along the Amsterdam Rijnkanaal. It was a beautiful day and yet I still had 1.5h until the start of my category.
I picked my number and took a seat as the juniors were rolling for their race.
I thought I had calculated it right, however, I had only left myself 35min of warmup time. Oh well, gotta make the best of it. The whir of the trainer helped me settle into a rhythm and clear my head for what was going to come ahead.
I rolled to the line and the starter held my bike upright. I clicked both feet into the pedals – 45seconds. I squeezed my brakes and pulled up at the collar of my skinsuit – 15 seconds.
5, 4, 3, 2, 1…GO!
As soon as I leaned on the pedals with all my power mixed with the adrenaline I knew it was my race. In a flash I was going full speed and the air rushing past me was making a high pitched whistle. Like a racing steed, I had to hold the reigns of my bike in the sidewind and keep it on course. My trusty bike computer reassured me I kept my effort in check – 365W and counting. The asphalt in front of me was a gray blur of speed. My long shadow was always there alongside me as a daemon whose death grip I must escape.
I could see the turnaround. A quick change of direction and I was running into a small trouble, all my enthusiasm and adrenaline were not enough to spin that big gear I had left the bike in. In a feeling of standstill I engaged my whole body with only one goal – get moving fast quickly!
It worked! Some 5 seconds later the slight tailwind was giving me a reassuring push down the ragged tarmac – 360W – I needed more.
Like a femme fatale, Pain was running her soft fingers from my throat down towards my navel until it suddenly stopped halfway and squeezed at my diaphragm hard.
I love this games we play, me and you.
I coveted for her grip on my chest and I longed for its tightness. I could take it higher – “Give me one more!” Click, as I shifted a gear higher – 375W. That’s what she wanted. With 6km to go it was me and her in an embrace of agony and warm sweat pouring down my chin.
Four km to go – 380W. “You want me more!” – she whispered in my year. With a gentle flick of the shifter with my sweaty fingers, I dug deeper for more. Like two lovers in an full embrace rolling together in the satin sheets, I could feel her taking over everything. The road was a thin gray strip surrounded by blackness that was closing in. With my mouth gaping for more air I could see the finish – 400W – one last push.
Where did you go? I sure asked you to stay?
With promises of pleasure, Pain released me with memories of my last supper rushing out of my stomach. With wobbly legs I collapsed on my bike drooling like a rabid animal. A man out on an evening stroll – put a hand on my shoulder and asked – “Are you OK?”
I certainly am – the best feeling in the world!
While the Pain was gone for good, I went towards my car and had some food and water to recover. The other riders kept rolling down past the finish. After the last cyclist finished – the jury announced the final standings – with a time of 25:05,3 I have won the 2013 Club Championships!!!!!
As I let all emotions settle in the glow of my computer screen later that night, I looked at what was the hardest I have pushed on a bike. At last the many months of training have paid off, the numbers didn’t lie, some of the highest power in my cycling career. Nonetheless, I could have done a better job coming off the turnaround, I should have looked for my mistress a little sooner, rather than letting her gently concentrate in my body and I could have worked out some of the minor details of my equipment for those extra seconds. Overall I settled at place #9 of the 110 people to EVER do that course with National Champions, World Championship and Olympic Games medalists hovering in the 8 places ahead of me. It is a step in the right direction!