“What are the chances” I asked myself? I met the group at Jackson Station at 8AM. I was on my race bike. I do not have a saddle bag for my race bike. I do have a patch kit that I stick in my jersey pocket. Well, I forgot the patch kit.
I arrived at Jackson Station and immediately realized my mistake. I did a quick analysis. The bike has newer tires. We would be primarily on the trace. I have not had a flat in months. I should have known better.
I mentioned that I was going to be “riding naked.” The group reassured me. After last week, they had me covered. I was not with them last week but I guess there were three flats last Saturday. Raland told me he was carrying 3 tubes. I felt reassured. I hoped that his over preparedness would offset some of my bad mojo.
Robin, the one who orchestrated of the pump and run challenge commented on my 70% bench press. He called me a “Pocket Hercules”. I do not know that phrase. I was not sure if this was ridicule or praise. I looked it up later that day. What a compliment. Naim Suleymanoglu.
Today’s ride would be a moderate ride since many of us would be racing next weekend. The only question was moderate for how long? We made our way west along the trace. After a few miles we jumped on 4th street and headed towards cane brake. I was at the back of the pack but the pace truly was moderate. Although my running game is spot on I do not feel my bike is where it should be. But I was in the pack and not suffering. I felt like I could ride this pace all day – or at least 56 miles. After a couple of loops we headed back to the trace and headed west again. We would take a quick pit stop and then tackle Epley Road. This is a fast, hard, hilly road that we have traditionally conducted king of the mountain type challenges. I have contested this title in the past but not recently. Lance and Keith got a break on the group and they were hammering hard. So much for the moderate pace.
Raland was about 10 yards ahead of me and I was going to try and jump on his wheel. I was looking at my heart rate and I did not want this ride to climb into the red zone. I hung back and raced at my half ironman pace. Robin was behind me and got tired of watching the break pull away. He flew around me and I grabbed his wheel. He reeled in Raland and now we had our own pace line. In the draft I was near the top of my ‘moderate’ heart rate. I was thinking that I would not have much of a pull. Then Robin started to drop me. It was almost like I had the brakes engaged. Robin opened a gap of a few feet and I pulled left to let Raland jump on his wheel. I just didn’t have it!
I slowed down a little bit and realized – yep – the front tire was flat. It was like the brakes were engaged. I turned around and removed the wheel. I had nothing on me. I tried to roll the tire off of the rim but I just couldn’t get it started by hand. Then I remember a tip I had heard long ago. If you have nothing then you can use the skewer quick release handle. Although this might have damaged the tube during removal it did allow for me to remove the tire.
Sam and Chris rolled by in a few minutes. More of my friends. They stopped and gave me a tube and CO2. I would return the bag and inflator when they passed me back. For whatever reason I could not get Chris’ CO2 inflator to work. I also damaged the tube Sam had given me. I was not sure what was going on. I have changed my share of tubes before. I have no problems in this area.
A few more minutes passed and then Lance and Keith came by. I had to flag them down. I am normally the guy who is prepared. I am the guy that has extra tubes and CO2. I felt bad for being so needy. I got another CO2 inflator and tube from Keith. The bad mojo was gone.
It took another couple of minutes before Raland and Robin went by. Robin said – “Oh that is what happened to James”. I told them that I had everything I needed and they rolled on. I finished up the tube replacement and started back towards Epley Station. It was not a minute until Sam and Chris roared by. Sam told me to hop on. I grabbed his wheel and we let Chris carry us home. I was out of my ‘moderate’ pacing but I was not going to blow up.
I did not get all of my planned miles. I also canceled the brick. I just headed home for some yard work. I got the lawn mowed. It made me think – Is there still snow on the ground in some places? I bet that there is.
Sunday brought a short personal duathlon. I just king of winged it. Someone had suggested an easy 30 minute run followed but a 2 hour ride and then another 30 minute run. I did not think I had the ride in me so I altered it a little bit. I also put the unitard on for the first time since August of last year (my ironman). The suit is a little tight in the chest and a little loose in the waist. I’ll take that but I should look at getting another suit.
I ran 5 miles at my marathon pace (average 7:11 pace) and then jumped on the bike trainer. I thought 45 minutes at race pace would be a good training session. My legs were tired. I was not able to push ‘race pace’ on the trainer. I dialed it down to an easier level and rode the trainer for 30 minutes. The thin pad in the unitard was noticeable. Immediately after the trainer ride I did another 5 mile run (average 7:06 pace). I was pleased with the running but the cycling was less than desired.
70.3 New Orleans is next weekend!