What is wrong with me?

Before I jump into today’s post let me remind everyone here in Greenville that while you’re eating lunch, Bryant Young will be starting off on his individual time trial out in Bend, Oregon.  He has been keeping us informed of his attempt to earn a spot for the Para-Cycling World Championships at his website Amputeeinaction.org.  His start time is 9:35 out on the west coast. Give out a cheer for him!

Now, about last night… It was a fun race and yet a discouraging one.  It was great to see my teammate Matt Tebbetts fight it out with the winner and take a well-deserved second place.  It was discouraging because I actually saw him cross the line as I was being lapped.

The race started with me feeling pretty neutral. I had only ridden once since Saturday and that was an easy ride with my son. The reason for that was out of concern that I was worn out.  I have not been riding well lately and I hoped maybe that was the fix.

I got started a little toward the back of the field of 37 riders and it took me a number of laps on the .47 mile course to work my way toward the front.  So far so good.  It would have been better had I not needed to work that extra bit, but here I was in the first quarter of the race in a good position.

Blair was going prime crazy – he called a prime on the very first lap of the night.  Kirk Flinte decided that it was the night to rack up on all the goodies. He worked for most of the first half of the race winning them from out of a three rider break that dangled about 8 or so seconds off the front of the field.

For a portion of that I had a good view because I was pacing the chasing field.  I figured they would be coming back, so I didn’t push very hard.  I just felt more comfortable going through the corners when I was on the front.  Looking back, that might have been one of the things that got me later in the evening.

The reason why is because it was very windy.  The headwind was pretty strong and being on the front allowed me to get the full brunt of it.  The wind seemed to be the worst right as you were finishing the climb into the turn at the start/finish line.

Then I did something else not so smart. Just as we were catching Kirk, Blair called for another prime.  I saw that there was just a small gap between us, so I decided to make sure Kirk earned this one.  I attacked out of the group and put a little pressure on him.  He still won it as we crossed the line with my wheel about at his pedals.  There was some more energy needlessly burned.

Things got fun when three other riders went off the front.  One of them was my teammate Matt Tebbetts.  I could tell from the make up of the riders that though it was a small group, it could be one to stick.  I started backing off and simply covered the front of the field.

Just as I was getting a little tired, Billy came up and took over the duty of controlling the front of the field.  Luis was there as well.  We alternated several times in the last third of the race.  It was cool to watch Matt and his group get farther away as we worked to control the pace.

I did feel sorry for the GlobalBike guys.  They are a strong team and you could tell that most of the riders were expecting them to do all the work.  Two of them moved to the front to try to get something going and I moved onto their wheels.  They gave it a valiant effort for several laps, but I would not pull through — no one else would either. Finally, they backed off.

Billy came back to the front and I went back. Then someone up front (maybe the GlobalBike boys again) ratcheted it up again.  We were nearing the last eight or so laps.  Then it hit me.  I couldn’t breathe.

I don’t mean that I was gasping for air and about to die.  I mean that I couldn’t seem to pull enough air into my lungs.  It was as though my diaphragm had tightened up and wouldn’t allow my lungs to fill.  My mid-section felt as though it was starting to cramp.

Perhaps it was the heavy, hot, humid air.  Whatever the case, my legs were feeling pretty good, but without being able to breathe I could not keep up the energy.  I slid toward the back.  I was trying to gulp in air and not get dropped.  It wasn’t working.

One time just as I was losing contact, Paul Mills came around (he was doing some warm up laps) and pushed me from behind.  It got me onto the rear again and I managed to stay there for a couple more laps.  Then things just shut down and with about three laps to go my motor just quit.

I got lapped two times before the race ended. I tried to help Matt out even then by calling out split times and cheering him on as he came by.  I took comfort in the fact that I had helped build those time gaps. It just was disappointing that I was unable to finish in the field.

There is something wrong.  I just don’t have it anymore.  Earlier in the year I was doing much better.  My first race was a fourth place finish.  The first POA Summer Series crits had me finishing 11th and 13th – in contention.  However, now I seem to be croaking at the end of every competitive ride I try.  Even the Saturday morning Hour Of Power rides have me sucking wind by the end.

Do I need to ride more? I don’t think it is that I need to ride less. Is it just that I need to make better use of the time that I do ride?  It is true that I race to ride, but I hate losing.  More than that, I hate not being in a position to win even if I don’t finish first.