Little race Big competition

Saturday April 20th I pack the car with my Kestrel race bike. Grab cycling shoes, helmet and head toward Marshall Illinois for the Spring Break Biathlon. It's a small 3 mile run, 15 mile bike race that is very low key, but when the competition shows up it gets downright difficult.

This just the second year of the event features several of my friends and teammates. Caleb Towles a very faster runner/cyclist (and swimmer) is at the top of the charts. Followed by Stan Strohm whom I've raced against for years and is about my same age. Then Tony Williams who eats Ironman for breakfast is ready and waiting. Doug Rees a cycling specialist is also there with his young son as a team. All of these guys I really like, but anytime we can get an inch on one another in competition you can bet we will.

Lots of friendly talk between all of us, then i do a short warmup with Caleb on this crisp (read cold) sunny morning. When we get called to the line it gets a bit more focused, we wish each other luck and then plan to give it our best. These guys are just like me, when the race starts no matter the largest Ironman or a small town race, we are all in.

Caleb, to know ones surprise immediate takes to a big lead at the gun. A couple of young competitors are out quick, but I know that won't last. Another guy I don't know and a girl are in front of me. I run shoulder to shoulder with Stan for the first mile. He remarks about Caleb's big lead, but I say sometimes it is good to be the hunter rather than the hunted. Later that came to haunt no one but myself. Stan then tucks in right behind me letting me set him up like lunch for later.

By the end of the 3 mile run I was just a bit behind the 2nd and 3rd place guy and girl. Grabbed my jacket at the bike rack for the chilly ride and got out like I stole it. Moved into 2nd place with my quick transition, but I knew my cycling fitness was not good so the hounds were building up speed behind me.

By mile 1.5 Stan said a nice encouragement to me as he passed by. We take a left turn, grab a lite tailwind and push the pace well into the mid 20's. All alone until nearing the half way turn around I see Caleb in full flight back. Stan is next then I see a spot in the road as the turn around. Slam on the brakes, do a 180 and head back toward the finish. Less than a mile back Tony likewise says something nice as he to passes me for 3rd.

The section back now has the headwind. My motor is running rough so to speak but I hang on and try not to get passed again. Somewhere in this part my contacts get rather blurry from the wind. Can't see worth a hoot, but I only need to put my head down and try to ignore the scream in my legs anyway.

Finally make the right turn for the last 2 miles and pick up a tailwind. Not much use though as my legs are pretty much trashed. Normally I would be in top gear for this section, but this winter has been particularly hard on me. No power in the engine room for now. Last mile and Doug is now the one to drop me from 4th to 5th.

Well tough day at the office, but couldn't have been beaten by a better group of guys. Packed the car and headed home quick to try and make a birthday party. One mile before I get there I have a last second view of an unmarked police car. Long story short it cost me more than the birthday present. Had he known how off my cycling speed is maybe he would have split the difference and called it even. Uh, no such luck.

One can only hope my cycling and my fortune improves greatly from here.
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