After a devastating failure on the Harpoon B2B due to an exercise-induced asthma attack at mile 60 and some severe forgetfulness (completely forgot to pack the inhaler), I have done a lot of soul searching regarding where to go from here. When I fail at anything, I realize that there are two ways to go. Either I can give up, and be beaten, or I can get back up and fight even harder. I heard a saying a long time ago that “You can not beat the opponent that will not give up”.
This past Saturday I went for a short ride with a group I hadn’t ridden with before. I wasn’t sure of their skills and expectations, so I decided that a “B” group would be a good place to just casually ride with them. Nevermind the fact that all of the roads and towns were unfamiliar and I wouldn’t want to end up being dropped in a place where I had not cue sheet and no idea where I was. It was a particularly hot day with the sun beating down, but thoroughly enjoyable. The ride was flatter than most rides I have done recently, so it felt like we were going down hill the entire time. The best part of the ride is what happened at the end though.
We were about 5 miles from the end of the ride, and the group had broken apart in to pieces. I opted to stay with the ride leader and two others who were setting a fairly strong pace throughout the ride. We turned on to the LIE service road, which is a gently rolling, straight road. It is completely exposed to the sun with minimal traffic, and has stretches at least a mile long in between traffic lights. The ride leader was in front of me and flagging in his efforts as I watch his back tire move left and right from him stomping the pedals, I hear his ragged breath and we are slowing. So I slip past him and keep the pace at 17mph. After about a 1/4 mile I look back and he is right on my wheel, with the two others behind him. He is looking recovered, so I edge the pace up to 18mph. Still there? Good. Let’s keep going. I get the pace up to 20mph until I can hear him breathing hard again, but the traffic light is close, so I hold it until the light. For the next two mile stretch I do the same thing, keeping the pace at exactly 20mph and keeping my line as straight as the road debris will allow. At the last light, the ride leader says “WOW! You are a strong rider. I am having trouble staying on your wheel at those speeds!” I respond saying that I will slow down, and he says “no, don’t. As long you are leading, I can hold it. Great pulls!!!!” The light turns green and we are off again. At the end of the ride, I thank him for the great ride, and for leading the way. He thanks me for saving him in the last 5 miles.
Then he said something that made my day, maybe even my week. He turns to me and says “You know, you could be riding with the A group. They would appreciate your strength. You would make a great time trialist or a sprinter.” Suddenly, all thought of my epic failure the weekend before were gone. This was the beginning of my comeback.