By Mark Edwards
I'm starting to think the Universe doesn't want me to be a TT'er ;-)
Apparently when I got back from Nationals I just screwed my pedals on hand tight. The bike sits in my bedroom and I probably just put them on to get them out of the way, planning to tighten them later. Anyway, about a mile from the start (5 minutes before first rider off) my pedals fell off! I could only get one back on, the threads were messed up on the other. I did a panic one leg pedaling drill back to the start and started asking around for an allen wrench.
Eric came to the rescue and I was able to gently thread the pedal back in. Turning around, the line was now backed up halfway to Hwy 1. Dang! That's a half hour wait.
Benoit had been helping me along with Eric. They were lined up together with a big gap between them, Benoit offered to let me slot in ahead off him.
I wasn't sure how the group would react to my cutting in, but I was wearing my Champion kit and there was this strange sense of reverence. Guys pointing and whispering, stealing glances to try and read what my jersey said. No one complained when I stepped into slot number 12, the jersey seemed to draw attention away from the fact that I was just a local shmutz taking cuts.
So far, my three attempts at Swanton on a TT bike have been plagued. First... a broken front derailleur, second... a flat. Third... the pedals fall off.
I haven't been feeling great, and have the numbers to back it up. Wednesday night's workout sucked, one of my worst for the year. Monday's was my worst. My hip hurts, I'm fatigued, and I've been eating non-stop since University road race - peaking at 10 lbs over race weight. I was riding Thursday for fun only - and mostly so I wouldn't have to do an insanely hard 3 x 20 on Branciforte.
Eric wasn't thrilled to have me starting after him, concerned I'd repeat UCSC and catch him. I tried to assure him he had nothing to worry about on this particular evening. I was worried Benoit would catch me. As strong and competitive as he is, and me not feeling 100%, I worried the whole ride that he was just about to over take me. Both Benoit and Eric were also on aero set ups.
Off we went! I tried to go out easy, but still my legs ached. This is a course where a power meter would really help. I'm sure I went out too hard. At the top of the hill I was maybe 30 seconds behind Eric, and Benoit hadn't caught me yet. We had passed several other riders though. I was very tentative on the descent. After my near death experience last time, I wasn't going to take any chances. I hated giving up time, but not enough to overcome my fear.
Once off the hill, I tried to pick it up. That worked for about two minutes, then the legs started to ache again. I tried to focus on staying aero and smooth. I could see Eric ahead, but the time he'd gained on the descent I didn't have the legs to pull back. At one point, just after Nils sped by (looking like a bullet) in the opposite direction, I caught a young Harbor High rider who immediately caught my wheel and drafted until he popped.
Finally the last climb, one last effort out of the saddle, then crank it up for the finish, It'll all be over soon. Eric maintained his gap logging 30:08, I eeked out a 29:51 PR, Benoit came sprinting across the line running in his socks! Seems he'd flatted 1.5 miles from the finish and wasn't about to give up. He kicked off his shoes and impressed all of us with his "Top 100 Wharf to Wharf" speed. I swear his toes were smoking... he burned through his socks, big holes everywhere.