white line thinking

The time trial.
The race of truth.
The pain.
The agony.

Last night was my first real dig, first real dip into purposeful self destruction this season. I came away with mixed thoughts, very mixed, with a healthy sprinkling of doubt all around the edges, hiding the silver lining that I hope is there. Wasn't really focused, but it's only 'training' so that's no big deal, at this time. My mind was wandering....all over the place, looking for distractions.

Trying to be distracted from that gnawing ache, the ache that I'm trying to wrap my mind around. Hate to sound selfish about this, but I fear that my birthday, normally a lot of fun as an uninteresting anonymous date on the calender, isn't gonna be the same for a long while. That bullshit down at Tech weighs heavy. My thoughts keep coming back to it. I don't personally know anybody involved, and the folks I know that are still there are all good, thankfully. But, I had classes in Norris, had professors in that building, knew some chicks that lived in AJ back in the day, lived in Shanks Hall sophomore year, which, as I learned from the AP wire, is where the English Dept is based nowadays.

Blacksburg is a special place, I learned a lot there. A lot about life, about engineering stuff and really discovered exactly how much I love to ride bikes and be out in the mountains. I remember my first blue sky spring day visit to campus, then moving in freshman year the following August. Not knowing a soul at first, then stumbling, literally, onto EastCoasters while going to a frat party.....Got a cycling map and explored the area, my first 'real' bike rides, down along the New, then trying to reach Mtn Lake. Turned back by darkness and sketchily riding the shoulder of 460 back to town. Spent the winter running 7miles a day, from Thomas Hall out past the Duck Pond & golf course and the commuter lot, out around Lane Stadium, thru downtown, back up to the quad, and then do it again, two laps. Spring brought my first foray into mtn bike racing after a fateful call from Barry. "Hey, we did this race thing up at Coburn....."

Saw a flyer at the record shop shortly after that call and toed the line on April 2, 1989 at the Spring Craig County Escape, dnf'ed after snapping a derailleur and singlespeeded it out of the woods, first race, first singlespeed experience, hmmmm. Then came the Rowdy Dawgs, won a keg of beer at one of 'em, bestest prize evah! Hooking up with those fools Chris & Thomas for the first time.....

Getting into road racing with the Tech team, my first real bonk & the nice woman out in the valley that let me use the phone and made me a sandwich as I waited for my roommate to pick me up. First case of training crit road rash, then my first A race at Clemson and seeing some dude slide on the asphalt after clipping a pedal in a corner at 30ish. The team time trial practices, the Tuesday/Thursday training races, the bar room proclamations over pitchers of Natty Light in the smoke filled Cellar, "I'm breaking away on lap 2 tomorrow!" And then following thru the next morning to lap the field in a two man break, only to screw the pooch in the sprint, '92 ACCCC Crit championship, runner up behind a some douche from UVA, that one still smarts a bit. Taking out frustration that afternoon in the Cat 4 race and soloing that bitch to the line. Collegiate Nationals in Rome, GA. Broken spoke in the road race, couldn't chase back on, TTT we were working with our alternate rider since we lost Bill to a broken collarbone two weeks prior, dropped Greg in the first couple miles, worked it four strong for a respectable placing, then I took a beautiful solo attack/flyer in the Crit, got 30-45ish second gap over a couple laps, two dudes bridged, we held it for a handful more laps, then the big hitters, UC-Davis & Colorado decided to real us in as crunch time loomed. I heard my name and school over the loudspeaker, I saw Sonia from Duke chearing me on, she was soooo hawt, a much better day then expected. Then we loaded three of us plus gear back into the Escort GT and drove on home to Blacksburg.

I haven't been back much since then, couple trips that summer to clean out the apt and an occasional bike trip to the neighborhood to race at Dragons Back or the Escape for old times sake. I guess what upsets me the most, is that the community will never be the same. The place I grew up in and learned so much from is forever changed, and not in a good way. I know the town and school will heal, but it has forever lost that wide eyed innocence, which can probably never be restored. There'll always be that grey cloud footnote. I'm sorry, that for so many, their only knowledge of Blacksburg and Tech will be because of this tragedy. I'm sorry that from here on out, nobody will ever again be able to have the same peaceful experience that I and sooooo many others enjoyed. Beyond the immediate loss of lives that I have no real connection to, I'm sorry that the community at large has lost something that's truly irreplaceable, and that sucks.

How'd the time trial go? It hurt, I always forget all the neat ways that your body can transmit pain. I can apparantly only sustain about 22mph with the 40:15, kinda dissappointing, but now is a good time to know, just don't yet have the legs to tick it over much quicker. 22mph is about a 105 cadence, I'd like to get my ability up to the 120ish cadence, get me up around 24ish sustainable on the false flats downs. Just couldn't accelerate past/thru that 105 cadence, didn't feel enough 'load' against the pedals. It's new to me, some of these sensations. The return leg was much nicer, the false flats were working against me, which loaded the pedals just right so I could run the high heart rate against some resistance. Punched the climbs super hard, dancing on the pedals, but would have to feather the brake on the downsides to recover. Going from max climbing to max spinning hurts like hell. I did see 38mph for a moment, thought my legs were gonna pop out of my hip sockets, 180+ cadence. The fixy was at a distinct disadvantage, braking on the downhills, limited top end, rolling along sections where I'd normally see 28+mph on the big ring, barely able to get up to 23......finish time was 28:54, not even 21mph avg.

Don't know if I'm disappointed in my ride, liked the HR numbers I saw, just didn't expect the fixy to be quite the handicap that it was in the black & white chronograph world. Well....at least, I hope it was the fixy that was the handicap, I didn't expect to be that far off the back. So, tonight, we climb, and go looking for some leg speed on the downhill, gotta train the up and the down on the fixed wheel beast.

Thanks for reading my ramblings, if you have.


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