...And I Continued With That Theme

After my spectacularly mediocre result in the Prologue, I felt I needed to step up my game a bit for the hill climb if I wanted to truly fail in a manner that reflects my suitability for this sport. I certainly gave it the old college try. This time I had help.
I spent my day relaxing, leisurely cleaning up baby vomit that would periodically appear around the house. It was glorious, especially since my beloved daughter started exhibiting some of the same symptoms. At least she managed to hit a trash can or toilet. I do love that girl of mine. The day was all about trying to get the kids to eat and drink, and then cleaning up the aftermath. Racing up a hill while depositing bits of lung on the pavement sounded like heaven in comparison, so as soon as the wife returned home from work I was loading up the car to make my escape.
I pulled up to the hill climb start and signed in with plenty of time to spare. I lingered talking to friends and frenemies before I got my bike down to start warming up. I wasn't out of the parking lot before I knew something was very, very wrong. The chain was skipping on every gear, and no amount of cable adjustment would fix it. I put it on a bike rack and started wrenching, but it was clear that the rear derailleur hander was bent in ways that defy the physical laws of this plane of existence. My daughter had knocked the bike over in the garage the day before, and I hadn't checked it out when I had the chance. Knocking the bike over took some real talent, since the rack is fairly steady. She's showing that she can screw up a bike almost as efficiently as I can. The force is strong with this one.
Deciding I wasn't comfortable tweaking it there, I fell back on the Storck, which I had thrown on the bike rack as an afterthought. A quick swap of wheels and brake pads, a removal of the commuting junk, and it should have been race ready. I certainly had enough time to pull that off, or so I thought.
I swapped rear wheels and gave it a spin, only to find the rear tire was rubbing on the brake caliper arch. The curse of Markus Storck strikes again. The carbon wheels were out, which left my extremely heavy pseudo-carbon wheels. I've been riding them on training rides all season long, and can confidently say that the only thing that they do worse than descend is climb. They flex into the brake pads under load, and their weight means they spin up slightly quicker than a three-toed sloth on Prozac. They suck. I have plenty of excellent aluminum wheels, but they were all at home.
My heart rate had been elevated considerably from stress for about 30 minutes by the time I finished getting ready, so I decided there was no need to warm up. Once you're in a groove of screwing up, it's hard to switch gears. I was in a James Brown Sex Machine-era groove of fuckitude.
When the Masters pack took off, the heavy hitters went to the front and hammered. Actually, they spun easily while the rest of us flailed. I hung with them until the first switchback, before reason prevailed and I sat up. I was averaging 100 watts more than I could sustain, and I was moments from imploding. Within 100 yards the pack was strung out and fragmented. I waited for Ed to pass, then let another rider around me for good measure. I recovered and hovered around 100 feet behind Ed, because I knew he would maintain a solid pace the whole way up the hill. Doing the math in my head between bouts of agony, I realized a 7th place GC position depended on me not being passed by anyone else in my class and my ability to catch and/or pass Ed before the finish.
When we got to the gravel section, the fun really began. The loose surface meant you couldn't stand, and large rocks would cause your tires to lose traction and spin. Ahead of me, Ed was struggling and the gap was narrowing, so I maintained a measured pace and rode up to his wheel once we got back on pavement. Both of us were pedaling squares, but my squares ended up having slightly more ass behind them, so I shored up my multiple- second command of the prestigious 7th place with a small gap.
Ed will erase it tomorrow during the time trial. I can't imagine a scenario that he wouldn't pound me into the ground in a time trial of any real length. The man just has a far better diesel than I do and knows how to time trial. The gaps he opens will be impossible for me to close in the remaining stages, even with time bonuses and finish line gaps. It's just how this is going to play out.
I could sit up during the time trial and save my energy for the road stages, but that's not how this pig-headed goofball rolls. I'm going to kill myself and ruin any chance I have for a respectable result because of some ill-placed sense of competitiveness,
I do have a teammate in the mix for a podium spot, so I could forgo my own GC ambitions and work to secure his. However, tactics rarely intrude into our little races, and I'm not strong enough for anyone to take seriously. I'd probably be chased down by my own team if I tried to ride off the front, even if the whole point was to wear out the competition. We may not be very smart, but we sure are dumb. You never know, though...
Tomorrow's another day, and maybe my son will infect the rest of the pack with the virus he's nurturing. Maybe everyone will run out and buy Storcks with horrible Chinese wheels. Maybe my daughter will go on a city-wide bike-knocking-over spree tonight. Maybe my luck will change.
I can always hope.


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