Tour of Fairbanks 2016- Sky Ridge Road Race.

Every time something brushed up against my left side, I'd wake up by the sharp stab of pain. Since I usually sleep on that side, this happened more than I would have liked. My shoulder was fairly torn up from the pavement and the abrupt stop at the curb, but the knee was what worried me the most. It swelled up and turned interesting colors, and I don't bruise easily. I slept with multiple ice packs around the knee, not knowing if I would be racing or driving home the next day.
 
Early in the morning, when I could no longer fake sleep, I decided to pin on and line up for the second stage. It was a short road race culminating in an uphill finish. I figured I'd see how long I could hang on, testing my body's new limits in the process. Several climbs along the course gave me ample opportunity to see what was there. I hadn't pre-rode or at least driven the course after the prologue as planned, because I was occupied with other things. I was seeing all of it for the first time.
 
The start went well enough, and I crested the first hill with the stronger riders. However, at the first King of the Mountain climb a gap opened. I found my sustained power wasn't where it usually is on a climb of that duration. Behind me other riders were struggling, so I wasn't alone. Eventually Stormtrooper Jim Winegarner dieseled his way past and I grabbed his wheel. Eventually we latched back on the leaders, just in time for the sprint point on the course. I wasn't looking to sprint, because my average power was already flagging, but I made a half-hearted effort to stay in contact in case the pack kept riding afterwards. Survival mode.
 
Up and down, along the flats... I held on. Barely. My knee had developed an alarming pop at the top of the pedal stroke.
 
Then we hit the final climb.
 
Initially I was there at the front. Then I wasn't. My left leg lost power to the point I was forced to climb one-legged. I'd push down on the leg with my arm to get the pedals to come around. I was in a bad state. The three leaders were just ahead of me. Jim was well behind me. Then he was ahead of me. I kept pedaling/pushing.
 
Pride is a stupid thing.
 
I finished a minute and a half after the winner. This was a huge victory for me.
 
It also put everything in perspective, as if losing seven and a half minutes in a seven minute prologue hadn't already done that. I wasn't riding for GC. I didn't have the sustained power anymore to do well on the longest road race or the time trial.
 
I was going to continue to bleed time like ooze out of my road rash.
 
I was going to be dropped.
 
There was no way around it.

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