4 main things to write about today:
1. Saturday’s bike race: Hillsboro-roubaix
2. Trip to MD Anderson to be evaluated by doc who treats very aggressive thyroid cancer
3. Sunday’s bike race: Tillis park
1. This is an 87 mile road race about an hour northeast of St Louis. It usually attracts a big and competitive field, with teams coming from all over the Midwest. It is also famously on very narrow farm roads with lots of sharp turns, a couple of short punchy hills climbs, and a long section of loose brick. As a cat 2 rider, I race 3 laps with the cat 1 and pro riders. With that in mind, nutrition, staying out of the wind, and conserving energy are the keys to finishing.
I felt great the first lap. I was riding about ¾ back in the field, staying out of the wind and taking in water and calories. I was feeling pretty optimistic for the remainder of the day as we cruised down a few mile stretch of ‘normal’ 2 land highway which leads back to town. Right before town, there is a relatively steep 1 minute climb which also doubles as the feed zone (where riders pick up fresh water bottles, on the go) then a little flat followed by a second 45 sec short, similarly steep climb leading to a gradual downhill in town where there is nasty, rough bricks, and broken up payment. There is then a sharp turn and a long straightaway, which on Saturday was right into a headwind, leading to the start/finish.
Before the race, the youngins (myself and Jon Shottler) of the CBC race team were trying to take in as many of the instructions and guidance as possible from the 2 generals of our team (Ethan Froese and Dave Henderson, both of whom are in their 40s, very experienced, and are some of the faster road riders in all of Missouri). One of the things Dave told me was to be careful in the feedzone, because that is often where attacks and crashes happen. If you’ve read my blog at all, you know that I have a metastasis of thyroid cancer in my 5th thoracic vertebrae, and because of that, my vertebrae is slightly weaker than it would normally be so I try my damn-dest not to fall. Breaking my vertebrae can mean bad news for my spinal cord. Anyway, at the base of the first climb I wasn’t paying as much attention as I should have and lightly crashed. All was well, only a little road rash on my knee, but in the period of time it took to get back on my bike and clipped in, the field of 120 bad-ass riders was gone. So I punched it up the climb and pedaled as hard I could through the sketchy brick-laden descent, then into the headwind on the start/finish straightaway. A little after the start line, before the first turn on the course, I had caught back on, but had just spent about 4-5minutes pedaling at about 100% effort.
Back in the pack, I started to feel comfortable again, but definitely noticed that coming out of each turn, the pack was pedaling a lot harder than in the first lap (probably 400-600watts)…and there were lots of turns. Halfway through the second lap, my hamstrings started to cramp. Bad. After fighting it for a little while and staying in, I eventually got spit off the back of the pack and soon found myself pedaling alone. Five or ten minutes later however, I was joined by a group of 6-7 guys. Once we got back on the main highway, me and this other guy starting taking some hard pulls and ended up dropping the other 4-6 guys and next thing we knew, the main field was back in sight. We chased them down and ended up catching back on right before lap 3. But at that point, I was toast. So I called it a day and didn’t feel the least bit bad about it. Next year, I’m coming back. I really enjoyed that race.
2. MD Anderson is famously aggressive, so I’m really going just to get their opinion. I have a big list of questions and concerns and hopefully will get them answered.
3. My flight for Houston left St Louis at 6:30pm. I found out there was a criterium 15 minutes from the airport starting at 2:45 which lasted 60 minutes. Perfect! I felt really good today until about 30 minutes in, when I had the exact same cramps as yesterday. So I pedaled softly for a lap, only to come upon the a bit of carnage: 4 riders had crashed on the course and seemed as though they could be hurt. I stopped and made sure no one had broken ribs puncturing/collapsing lungs or serious head injuries. Things seemed fine, so I moved on. While there, a park ranger came and both myself and Luke Musselman (sp?) suggested an ambulance. Anyway, I guess after that, I should have gone directly to the race officials and let them know there would be an ambulance on the course. So, when the ambulance arrived, we all got stopped by the officials and I got yelled at. At first, it really rubbed me the wrong way, but a bit of humility set in and I now realize that they had a valid point. I just argue with the way in which it was communicated and still stand by my decision making skills to request an ambulance myself, then communicate that decision to the race officials (their argument to me was that they should be the only ones who should call an ambulance). Water under the bridge now. The clock was ticking and I had a plane to catch, so when the race started again, I was on my way to the airport.
4. I like science a lot and want to contribute. I think I'm going to change course a bit and commit to some time in the lab.