Mesquite Rodeo Rally, 2009

Man, oh man, oh man. Something good is really happening now!!

Pulling Colavita and Colonel's

Pulling Colavita and Colonel's

This is one of the toughest rallies in the Metroplex. It’s a 64 mile course over terrain that EVERYONE is familiar with, and it brings out several of the Big Dogs of racing and rallying in North Texas. I decided to really try and bury myself, so I ended up riding out to the course start from home, and then doing the rally, with the intention of returning the same way, to try and make it almost 90 miles. The out part was great, but the rally itself was SO HARD, and SO INTENSE that I ended up bumming a ride home with Amy after it was over.

True to form, there were a LOT of big guns there. Names I recognize, though you may not. Mike Brown, Brett Crosby, Surfer, several members of the Colavita squad, lots of Tenzingers, and Chopper. Champions among them. Top Guns. This was going to be a REAL test of my fitness.

The start was hot & furious starting early, and I tried my best to stay hidden, in the teens and 20’s, but after maybe 12 miles, I found myself at the front more than once, pulling or bridging small breaks. But I found that I had some really good legs, and the recoveries were just as good. About 20 miles in, Chase McKinney (a Mirage teammate) got in to a break of 3 that got about a minute up the road. Originally, since I was riding in Pirate gear, I thought about going to the front and pulling them in, since I knew the riders were strong, but I got chastised by another Mirage rider, and I backed off. But at about 30 miles, they were all reeled in. It was then that Brett Crosby started his attacks. Brett is a super-strong cyclist, who is famous for his LONG, HARD, STEADY pulls that can rip the legs off of most people. In November, I raced against him in a 1,2,3 category race, in a blistering 25mph wind on a CRIT course… and he lapped the field. That’s how strong he is.

His attacks came from the left, strong, but not too strong, in the hopes that someone might go with him and establish a breakaway. He tried maybe four times in the crosswind, before we turned left and started on the long route home, but to no avail. Then some Tenzing riders attacked here and there, and it was an attack by Joe Giordano that sent me up there with him as we tried to work together and get away from the pack. With a gap of maybe 15 seconds total, we were joined by Mike Brown of Colavita, and the race was on!

This was about mile 37, I believe. We rode together smoothly, changing positions on a regular basis, and pushing up the rolling hills where we knew we could get an advantage. As we rode behind the Seagoville Federal Pen, Mike looked over his shoulders and said, “I don’t see ’em. It must be a minute.” We had a minute on the pack! It only reinvigorated me, and I pushed through Seagoville so hard that both Mike and Joe cautioned me to slow down because they were barely holding on.

Our gap continued to grow, but  it wasn’t until we got within 13 miles of the finish that we actually ended up seeing just how far ahead of the pack we were. It was on a section right before we dove under I-20, and as we looked across a 40-acre pasture, we could see the group just cresting a hill that we had cleared at least 3 minutes before. The pack was falling back! We were almost in the clear!

Unfortunately, it wasn’t long after that, maybe with about 8 miles to go, that I began to feel the effects of the heat and humidity, and previous effort from the past 2 hours. Joe and Mike got a small gap on me on a hill (usually my forte), and I was popped off the back of the train. Then I got scared and began to worry that I’d get swept up by the pack, and my Best Finish Ever in a local rally would be lost. I MOTORED IN as fast as my wilting legs would allow, hoping that I could weave in between the other returning riders from shorter distances, and that the pack wouldn’t be able to do the same. I took risks. I raced through corners. I called out “On Your Left!” with every rider I passed, hoping that they’d get out of the way. I tried to keep my wattage above 230, then 220, then 210, then just above 200. I drank EVERYTHING I HAD, four bottles of EFS liquid shot. I never cramped, but with about 1/2 mile to go, with the final chicane in sight, I suffered from a delusion that I’ve come to recognize as my own sort of heat-related out-of-body experience. The bridge over Highway 635 (a big circle around Greater Dallas), turned purple, and the railings on both sides began to waver and wiggle like that image of the Tacoma Straights Bridge that broke apart in a high wind in the early 50’s.

The bridge began to waiver and wiggle and turn purple, and I knew that I was close to needing extra help to get back home. But I recognized what was going on in my last clear-conscience thought, stood up, hammered over the bridge, made the right, then the left, and rolled under the “FINISH” banner. I had done it. I had finished 3rd in what was arguably one of the top fields of attendees of a rally in 2009. I immediately went over to the air-conditioned food court area, found some water and some coke, and then gingerly made my way over to First Aid, and asked them for a cold pack.

Is it over? It is OVER! YES!!

Is it over? It is OVER! YES!!

I was cooked.

I don’t remember much from the next half hour, except that they took my bp and pulse about a dozen times, laid me down on the floor with my feet up, and gave me two cold packs to put under my arms and then one on my forehead. Maybe someone told me this. I can’t remember. I know the floor was cool, my legs were twitching, and the coke tasted great. I guess I should’ve asked for an IV, but I don’t know if they had any.  Anyway, after maybe 1/2 an hour, I was well enough to get up and walk back over to the tables, where everyone was meeting and retelling their stories about the ride. I congratulated Joe and Mike, then got some congrats sent my way for doing most of the work (I tend to be guilty of that).

When you ride that hard, and dig a hole that deep in your reserves, it’s hard to think, much less take care of yourself. I did make sure I drank caloried drinks, and I did have an ice-cream sandwich, but I couldn’t bring myself to actually eat anything at all. I had no taste or appetite. I might’ve retched had I actually tried. Eventually, Amy rolled in with our friend Lila, and we all recovered to the point where we could retell the tales, experiences, etc. without me feeling like I needed a bucket. Amy had driven my car out to the rally, and she gladly helped me load it up with both our bikes for the trip home.

Rally riding for me gives me the opportunity to ride, hard, with people I don’t normally get to ride with. It gives me the ability to gauge myself against others, continue making friends, and honestly, it validates (or doesn’t validate) my own training plan. I ‘beat’ some really good riders that weekend. I’m hoping that some day, with accomplishments like these, I’ll earn their respect. I mean, I’m getting it, certainly, and I’m really grateful for the opportunities that Rallying has given me, but I just hope that the next time some guy starts thinking about finding ways to get better, finding ways to improve, he or she will think about “onlinebikecoach” and give me a ring or send me an e-mail. I think some of the events we do in North Texas produce some of the strongest, toughest riders in the country, age group or otherwise, and I’d like to be a part of that continued contribution.

The stats for the rally are below:

Lap 2 (2:37:19.85):
Duration:      2:36:25 (2:37:19)
Work:          2085 kJ
TSS:           184.4 (intensity factor 0.841)
Norm Power:    250
VI:            1.12
Pw:HR:          5.44%
Pa:HR:          4.47%
Distance:      64.038 mi
Elevation Gain:        5133 ft
Elevation Loss:       5156 ft
Grade:         -0.0 %  (-23 ft)
Min    Max    Avg
Power:           0    919    222     watts
Heart Rate:      94    185    169     bpm
Cadence:         3    134    91     rpm
Speed:           0.4    47.1    24.4     mph
Pace             1:16    160:56    2:28     min/mi
Altitude:        359    524    433     ft
Crank Torque:    0    892    202     lb-in

This was a hard rally, performed at high levels of energy and wattage, and it left me feeling pretty prepared for the upcoming stage race in Oregon. It still took me about 3 days to recover, but on Monday, I performed a 20MMP on my road bike, and blew a Season-Best 309!!!! So this really is working. I can’t WAIT for Oregon!!

Thanks for reading – I’ll try to post some final pre-Oregon thoughts up here soon.


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